Game Ratings

Unlike films, 86% of parents don’t follow the advice of age ratings

survey of 2000 parents by

Of the survey carried out by over half of adults said they would let their children, 10 to 14 years old, play games rated 18+. Whereas only a fifth would let their children, 10 to 14 years old, watch films rated 18+.

Why are games treated so differently to films? Is it because the graphics for many games are quite cartoon-like?

Fortnite Battle Royale, in game graphics

Just because a game has cute cartoon-like graphics does not mean it should be played by all ages. Fortnite by Epic Games, seen above, is a fine example: You see kids of all ages doing the dances and I know plenty of young kids playing it regularly. The thing is, it’s rated ‘Teen’ by ESRB…


There are two main regulatory bodies that issue age certificates for games. They both are self regulated by the software industry but, as of the date of this article, they are both recognised to be doing a satisfactory job of regulating the issue of games rating certificates.


PEGI (Pan European Game Information) is a European rating system. It not only has an age rating but also icons to show what kind of content the game involves.


The Entertainment Software Rating Board is an American based rating system.

You can access both the above sites and search for the game you want to know about.

Why you should use these ratings

These regulating bodies base their certificates on solid, scrutinised methods that take into account facets of a game that we would not think about as parents. Things we pass off as harmless might be affecting our children’s minds in ways that we might not know about…

Many parents I’ve talked to have said that their child’s mood changes after they’ve been playing, a state of being ‘in the zone’ maybe? Being interrupted mid game can be a bit of a jolt, in my experience, a jolt that I have never felt while watching a film I am engrossed by. Games do grasp the mind in ways I do not understand.

I believe we should trust the rating agencies to be better at judging the appropriateness of a game than us. Of course make your own judgement but do take on board their advice.

Revisiting Fortnite, mentioned previously, we can see that ESRB sees Fortnite as a violent game, hence its rating. When parents ask me about the rating I always remind them that a game that encourages players to shoot others in the head (for extra damage) shouldn’t really be played by young kids.

Rating Addictiveness

PEGI and ESRB do lack a rating with regards to addictiveness. Game companies are employing psychologists to actively make games as addictive as possible and so it should be feasible to assess how the game might trigger addictive behaviour…

This is probably not the case at the moment as game addiction is still only just gaining recognition as a problem.

In June 2018 ‘Gaming disorder’, was officially recognised by the WHO (World Health Organisation). As this subject is taken more seriously then hopefully we will see more action taken to safeguard our children.


What’s in a name?

Your online nickname will help define fellow players’ initial impressions of you and maybe how they interact with you.

Some time ago I started adding people to my friends list who were from Saudi Arabia. I had no idea why but these chaps seemed to warm to me and were great to have a laugh with. While chatting with one of them he was surprised I wasn’t from Saudi too as my player name was the word they use for a little boys penis… I changed my name a short while after.

It’s worth noting that pretty much all online games and games platforms allow you to change your nickname so don’t stress about getting that perfect name…

Here’s a few things to think about when creating an online name for your child:

Avoid anything that may hint at your age, gender, beliefs or sexuality

It is good practice to avoid giving away anything about you as a person. Doing so will avoid others being able to direct unwanted attention to a particular aspect of you as a person. This will also avoid unwanted attention from those looking to interact with certain sexes or age groups.

Avoid anything contentious or related to current trends

Trying to get people to react to your username has been done to death. Current trends also are just as they are, current, and will change like the wind.

Don’t use glyphs (characters/ fonts that look like images)

The overuse of glyphs is usually associated with younger players so it’s good practice not to use them. Also, if someone wants to message you or seek you out to talk to you then these will make it difficult.

Keep punctuation to a minimum

For the same reasons as glyphs, punctuation should be carefully considered if used. Try to keep it limited to hyphens and underscores if you have to use anything at all.

If in doubt go generic or obscure

Early on in your child’s game playing just keep their names generic. As they play with others they might get some ideas for a good name or maybe the way they play might affect their name decision.

Nickname creators

A quick search and you’ll find a few. Be aware that some will ask you to enter your name and, sometimes, other details. This is for the purpose of collecting your personal information. You don’t need to share your information to generate a name… just enter some false information and you’ll find that many of the suggestions are not related to the details you entered. (I’ve not linked to any as I’m not confident in any I’ve found so far).

advice informative

What are your kids playing? did a study of 2000 parents. 85% admitted to not following age restrictions for games. And over half said they’d let their children play games with an 18+ certificate even though only a fifth will let them watch an 18 cert film.

Seriously?! Is it ok for little Bobby to play Modern Warfare 2 where he gets to mow down a bunch of civilians while walking through an airport with a machine gun?

MW2 airport clearance mission

I could link to the more examples but the above should be enough, especially if you look up the play-through on YouTube. I won’t link to it…

Games have many elements that might adversely affect your child. Every child is different and, as their parent, you have to make that decision on whether they play a game or not. Here’s some things to think about to help you make that decision:

What age group is the game?

Like films and TV series there are guidelines to what age group a game should be played by.

In Europe there is the PEGI rating system. In the US they have the ESRB.

As mentioned above, most parents don’t seem to care or aren’t aware. These are an easy first stop for you. There is also where you can read reviews by adults and kids.

I have a post about game age certificates here.

Does it have Micro-transactions?

These are in game purchases. If you don’t want to risk your child emptying your bank account it is worth knowing if the game has them. I’ve dedicated a post to them here.

Are there any Gambling elements?

Many games take advantage of gambling mechanisms to extract money from players.

In Counter Strike, a very popular game played worldwide,  you get awarded boxes at the end of a game, you then need to purchase a key to unlock the box and the player gets a random prize.

CS:GO box opening – gfycat

The player has to hope it’s a good one but more often than not, according to the odds, they won’t… Sound familiar? Of course, this is gambling.

Is it an online game?

Some games are playable online where your child will play alongside others from around the world. Unless they have pre arranged to play with friends then chances are they’ll be playing with randoms (random players from around the world) whose age, sex, location, beliefs are a mystery.

With young players, it’s a good idea to coach them in playing with others. Any age players should follow a few guidelines and I’ve written a couple of posts that might help:

Some advice for children playing online: link

A guide to choosing a name: link

Is it a time sink?

What games aren’t, if you’re a bit sceptical…

It’s worth being aware that some games require a hell of a lot of time investment before they are really enjoyable.

A fine example is Fortnite. People in the know have given a rough figure of 50 hours before you’re going to start being able to build competently and compete with those that can.

Some games involve grinding away at very similar quests for the player’s character to gain experience points to level up, World of Warcraft can take a long time to level up your character to able to adventure into higher level areas. Trying to get your children to self regulate these kind of games will be a nightmare.

So why do kids play violent games?

The most common factor in all games that your child wants to play is their peer group. “Little Terry next door is stabbing people in ‘Generic Fighty Game II’, why can’t I?”. As a parent, who wants their child to be happy, you will think, “well if he’s playing it, then it’s probably OK… and I don’t want my little darling to be left out”.

But now you know there are games with 18+ certificates lurking out there so you’ll always do your own research as, chances are, nobody else has.


Best gaming device for children

With the myriad of devices on the market it can be easy to get confused when trying to decide which is best for your child’s age group.

But first, don’t give your child a console as a personal present.

Buy it as a family or for the family. If your child receives the console as a present then it will be much harder to limit their playing, “It’s my console so why can’t I play it?!”.

This also goes for games. When you buy a game you can look into whether it is good for the whole family to play. Read more here about buying games.

The gaming devices

PS4 console by Sony

PlayStation, current version is the PS4. Now superseded by the PS5.

Xbox console by Microsoft

Xbox version One, the X series is now out and is made by Microsoft.

Switch by Nintendo, in its dock

Nintendo Switch is a handheld device that can be docked to use a monitor or TV screen.

Switch by Nintendo, un-docked mobile gaming device

The controllers can be attached to the sides of the device to make one controller or 2 mini controllers for multiplayer.

Nintendo’s Wii

Nintendo Wii is a console that changed the playing field back in 2006. It’s use of motion sensors in the controllers meant that hand gestures and movement were utilised to control games. This meant that very young and older people could play may of the games with ease.

PC and MAC You’ll probably have one already. Just be aware that some games will require high spec machines to play them.

A note on static and Mobile Devices

One major difference in all the above gaming devices is that between static and mobile devices. It’s worth knowing the difference when you’re thinking about you children gaming.

Static Devices

Wii, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch (when docked), PC/ Mac, 

You have to set aside time to play as they are located in the home. The decision to play is a conscious one as there is the set up where you switch on the device and wait for it to startup. Also, in general, the games are more involved so you have to plan ahead to get the best out of your time playing.

Mobile Devices

Phones and tablets

As opposed to the above, you can dip into mobile devices whenever you have a spare 5mins, especially with the phone in your pocket. Therefore they are easier to binge/ overuse due to their availability.

Best device for early years gaming (6 to 8)

Nintendo Wii

Simple to play, great value, family friendly.

Nintendo are the kings of family friendly gaming so there are lots of games that will suit your child. It’s very easy to play many of the games so you can play too. Even my mum could play it and enjoy it.

The controller has some clever motion detection that allows the player to shake or move the controller to play certain games. There’s also a pointer for the player to point and aim at the screen.

Some games are more thumbs only where the player presses buttons to move their character and make them interact with their surroundings but many of those games try and integrate the extra functionality of the Wii controller.

Finally, the console and games are very cheap to buy second-hand so you’re not making a large investment for something your child may have little interest in.


If you already have an XBox or Playstation you’ll find they are making a lot more games for young children. There are also some good peripherals available to help young children play more gesture based games.

Best device for young gamers (9-12)

Nintendo Switch

Versatile gaming machine with great family friendly games

The Switch is a great machine for this age group and is a really good upgrade from the Wii. It’s very versatile with the controllers able to detach so you can play with one or more friends.

As with the Wii it has Nintendo’s repertoire of games that suit many ages and are accessible to people that don’t regularly play. It also has more mature games that you can play if you ever get the time…

The Switch can be un-docked to be a mobile device and should be treated as such. Although it is better than any other mobile device as it allows for the controllers to be removed to allow multiplayer gaming on the move.

Best devices for older children (12 and up)

PC or MAC*

Great value and choice of games

  • The primary reason is the availability of games and their price.
  • There is no backwards compatibility issues – where you can’t use your old games on your new games machine when you upgrade.
  • There are no monthly fees to play online (some games may do this but this is very rare). PlayStation and Xbox require a subscription to be on their network.
  • Chances are you’ll already have one.
  • Buying the machine in the first place is going to be expensive but in the long run this equals out.
  • You are able to play Xbox and PlayStation games on PC. This service is in its infancy. Xbox games are free to play on Windows 10 PCs. PlayStation is subscription based with an expanding repertoire of games.

Xbox or PlayStation

Great for playing together

I’ve included these as they are a great accompaniment to the pc or mac.

They allow for some great group play options when your child has some friends over for some couch gaming. Also, chances are, their friends will have one of these. They are so common now and a default for parents that just want to get their child a device to play on.

This might raise a few issues when someone wants to watch tv at the same time. But if you view games in a similar way to television shows or films then you will then end up balancing the amount of each.


Buying games for your child

Don’t impulse buy

In general I wouldn’t buy from a shop while your child is by your side. Also, when you buy a game think that you are buying it for the family. If your child thinks of the game as theirs then it will be harder to control when and how much they play i.e. “it’s my game so why can’t I play it?”, as they would with any of their other toys.


Before you buy the game always do some research first. Online is the most obvious place to start this but also ask around other parents and see what their kids are playing.

Just make sure you do your own research too. Here’s a few things I look for in a game I am going to buy:

Fun gameplay that is not overly repetitive

Some games are just a mindless grind that will, in the end, leave you or your child feeling empty inside…

What’s the game’s age rating

All games will be rated by ESRB or PEGI and they are a great first stop for whether or not you should be letting your kiddo play the game. I’ve expanded more on these here.

Stimulating gameplay

Is there a storyline for them to engage with? Do they have to make choices that affect the storyline? Is there a team element that their friends can join in to play?

Anything that I think might be distressing

This is very much dependent on your child. Are there entities that try to kill the player? Are there interactions with other players that your child doesn’t know?

A number of parents at school have mentioned their children having bad dreams from playing Minecraft after being chased by zombies, I recommended they switch to creative mode (where you are not attacked) and everything is fine again.

Are there any micro-transactions?

These are in-game purchases. I’ve gone into more detail about them here. I am not against micro-transactions, a game developer needs to make money, it’s just that I am aware that some developers might make them integral to keep playing the game. It’s good to know the type of micro-transaction so when your child says they need to buy something, I know why. If your child has enjoyed the game then think about rewarding the developer by buying the premium version or an in game purchase.

Time overhead

Is my child going to have to spend an inordinate amount of time on the game before they really start to enjoy it? Fortnite is a good example where when you get to a certain standard of play you will enjoy it a lot more. But that time before that is going to be pretty painful. Another example is World of Warcraft, any player has to spend a massive amount of time playing to level up their character.

Does the game have any adverse effects on your child

Above all else you want your child to have fun and enjoy themselves. When they do start playing the game you’ve bought pay heed to your child’s attitude and mood during and after. If anything is amiss don’t feel bad about taking the game away and finding an alternative. Just explain to your child why beforehand.

Play the game

Any game I buy for my son I spend a couple of hours playing before he knows I have got it for him so I can check it’s going to be okay. Also, it would be nice if I want to play it with him.



Discord is free communication software. You can use it in your browser or install it on your pc and mobile devices.

Discord Logo
Discord Logo

If you haven’t already download and install Discord, using it in browser is a bit of a fuss.

Start it up and click on friends in the top left.

Discord - home layout
Discord – home layout

You’ll see something like the above picture. I’ve blanked out names with white for privacy.

In the middle is the friends list, highlighted below:

Discord - friends list
Discord – friends list

This will show all friends. Any not online will show with a grey dot next to their avatar instead of the green. I have my list showing only the ‘online’ ones by clicking the ‘online’ tab at the top.

The vertical ellipses to the right of the user allow you to call, message or delete that friend.

Adding a friend in Discord

Click the green ‘Add Friend’ button in the top right of the friends section.

This will prompt you to enter their username and their ID e.g. UserName#9999 – note that capitals must be accurate and no spaces between name and hash symbol.

Discord - user name, ID, options
Discord – user name, ID, options

Your user information

Your username, ID and avatar are shown at the bottom left (highlighted above). Also, mute and deafen buttons allow you to quickly control sound to and from you.

User options

The cog symbol is for your settings. You can change your avatar here.

Of this comprehensive list the ‘Voice and Video’ tab is a very important one and worth exploring to set up your communications settings. There is a ‘Reset voice settings’ button on the bottom if your adjustments make things worse…

The rest you can explore at your leisure.

Sending Messages

 Discord - direct messages
Discord – direct messages

Any personal message threads are shown to the left of the home page. The ‘+’ symbol allows you to start another message thread with someone on your friends list.

You can remove names from this list with the ‘x’ next to their name. This will not delete the messages.

You can also right click on a friend for some handy functions.

What other folks are up to

Discord - active now list
Discord – active now list

The active now section (shown above) not only shows who’s online but also what they’re playing, including music.

Adding a Discord server

Discord - server list and options
Discord – server list

Your available servers are shown to the left. Ones you’ve made will look the same as others you’ve joined. Just click on the server circle to join.

You can add a server by clicking the green ‘+’ icon near the bottom.

The search button allows you to look for servers. Excellent if you want to find a server of a game you like.

discord server page layout
Discord server interface

If you click on a server icon you will go to that server page.

As you can see above the server page is slightly different from the home page.

The centre section is the messages from the text channel you are in.

Text and voice channels

You can see in the red area the channels this server has.

As a default the server has a ‘#general’ text channel. You can add more with the ‘+’ icon next to ‘TEXT CHANNELS’ or ‘VOICE CHANNELS’.

This is great if the server you’re in has people playing on different games so they can jump into their own chat channel specific to that game.

Click on a voice channel to join it. Click on the phone with a cross icon – highlighted in yellow, bottom left- to disconnect from voice chat.

Server member list

Highlighted in green is the member list showing who’s online or offline. It will also show any roles they have been assigned – good for creating sub groups in big servers.

Add people to your server

To add people to the server click on the server name in the top left, next to the Discord logo home button. This shows lots of options, including ‘invite people’.

You’ll get the following window pop-up with your friends listed (blanked out for my privacy):

Discord add people to server window

The easiest way to add folks to the server is when they are already friends and clicking on those invite buttons. So, add someone as a friend first then invite them to the server.


Discord is very good at adding information when you hover over an entity.

There’s also the help button that is a question mark, top right.

Keeping your child safe on Discord

Last but not least, a note on safety.

Early years kids, 6 to 11, keep to closed groups of their friends. Depending on your child you may want to extend this.

It’s fine for them to have their own account but also have one yourself. Get to know Discord so that you are the first port of call for your child if they have problems.

Start servers for your child and their friends. You will then be in charge of that server.

Don’t let your kids join public servers until you are sure they are ready i.e. are old enough and wise enough to field random people contacting them. Once they join a public server people can invite them to their servers and private chats.


Minimising the risk of game addiction

Nine out of ten times ask my child what he would like to do, if he can do anything, and the answer will be to play games or watch TV.

I have always tried to promote a healthy attitude towards other forms of entertainment or interest but for some reason that’s his thing. So I try to promote healthy gaming habits. 

One problem with trying to promote a healthy attitude to kiddies playing games is you’re up against a gaming industry where some developers are engineering games for addiction.

So what can we do?

Don’t have any screens in your child’s bedroom

This advice came from my brother-in-law and works so well through its simplicity and makes regulating screen time so much easier.

Try to make your child’s room a sanctuary from modern technology, a place to read, study and sleep. With such an emphasis on the virtual world in their modern lives they need a place to rest.

If you can get your child to regard their bedroom in this way then hopefully this will stay with them when they are older and help instilling some form of self regulation.

Don’t let games/ screens become a crutch for your child on social occasions

I believe social skills need to be exercised like a muscle and your kids aren’t going to improve if they bury their faces in a screen. Also, there’ll come a time in their life when that’s just rude.

Test to see if screens are becoming a little too important to their life by leaving mobile devices at home. How do your children behave without these devices? Does it change how they interact with others? How is their mood?

Be careful about the games you buy

Just because your child’s friends play a game doesn’t mean that it’s going to be okay for your child. 86% of parents don’t follow game age ratings… over half let their children play games with 18+ rating.

Read more: Buying games for your child

Don’t let games or mobile devices become a default babysitter

We all need some peace and quiet at times but try and promote other forms of entertainment before reaching for the mobile device.

With younger children have a grab-bag of things they like to do like colouring books, a container with some Lego in, reading books.

For older kids I can only think of books. Got any other suggestions?

Be mindful of setting precedents

My son still thinks he can only play games on the weekend. He’s not questioned why, that’s just the way it has always been and hopefully it will remain like this for as long as possible… The same goes for the amount of time your child plays.

Note the cumulative amount of time your child spends on any screened device

Hopping to and fro between games and social media is a habit to be wary of.

Social media employs psychologists to keep you scrolling. Going from one highly addictive activity to another is a whole barrel of trouble.

Don’t see social media as downtime from gaming.

Treat screen time as anything that involves a screen and regulate it as such (with the exception of research for school).

A note on social media

Much of the above is applicable to social media which has also been engineered for addiction. Facebook’s founding president has made this clear:

Facebook’s model of constant scrolling information interspersed with adverts is also seen in popular social media sites Reddit and 9gag.

Notes & References

*The Remote, the Mouse, and the No. 2 Pencil by Borzekowski DL, Robinson TN

Statistics on parents not adhering to age ratings: This excellent article has some great, hard hitting facts about what parents let their kids play.



Micro-transactions are in game purchases like a funky looking weapon, extra playable areas, buffs to make the player better, new clothes, hats (yes you, Team Fortress 2), extra characters and other such stuff.

It’s always worth knowing about any involved in the game your child is playing as they might not know to select ‘NO’, when the game prompts them to buy that unicorn onesie for their character.

Micro-transactions are a legitimate way for a company to make money and fine if it is done in a responsible way. Sadly, some companies will exploit micro-transactions to make the game unfair or unplayable unless a purchase is made:

Game maker EA controversially allowed some of the main characters of a Star Wars™ game to be unlocked with money. Players could unlock the characters through time but you’d have to play the game like it was a second job to do so. This caused an uproar in the player community and has massively changed the way companies view micro-transactions.

Types of micro-transaction


These just change what the players character looks like in game like different clothes, funky designs for weapons and other flourishes of detail that set you  apart from fellow players.


You can buy better equipment for your character to give them an edge over the game. This has been called ‘Pay to win’ by players. The unpopularity of pay to win is such that it is quite rare and pretty much non existent in online competitive games.

Pay wall

Sometimes a game will give you a number free levels then once you get to a certain level you will be blocked, or at least impeded from continuing as you were, with a purchase of some kind.


Sometimes a game will give you items (especially early in the game when you start playing) but usually they are unlocked via a transaction. A common form of unlock is a chest that you need to buy a key to open.

This is prominent in Counter Strike, a very popular FPS game with a global player base, where players can unlock ‘skins’ for their in game weapons. There are different rarities of skins and they can be sold for real money (many are over $100, some even over $1000!).

CSGO chest unlocking

Random unlocks are gambling and you, the parent, should be aware if there are any in the game your child is playing.

Why micro-transactions can be bad

Depending on your child’s age they may be oblivious to these transactions. When the game asks them to click on a button to purchase they will not question whether or not they should. And if you haven’t set in place safeguards you’ll find your linked account being debited by the game.

The BBC has a great article on the risks involved: ‘My son spent £3,160 in one game’

How can you minimise the risk of micro-transactions?

Play the game

There is no better way to gauge what your kids are playing and find out if there are any micro-transactions involved.

PEGI Parental Controls

Go to PEGI ratings’ page that links you to online resources that guide you through setting up safeguards on your devices:

Sadly they don’t list PC or MAC.

For PCs I recommend that you set up a separate profile for your child to play on. Your child blindly confirming every little request asked by the system or a web site could quickly lead to problems. Restrain them by an account that is not able to carry out certain actions like installing new software. Also, any debit card, credit card or PayPal details will be linked to your account and not your child’s…


The diversity of the gaming community

While gaming your child will meet an amazingly diverse crowd of people and can end up talking to someone that they would never do so in normal life.

I have friends on my Steam account from all around the globe: Norway, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, US, Lithuania, and many more. These are people I have connected with while playing a game in a virtual world.

Recently there was some idiocy that was the tete-a-tete between the US and Iran: The media jumped on this and spouted their inflammatory nonsense and speculation. Meanwhile I am reading funny comments from an Iranian gamer wondering if his internet connection is going to be affected in a way that he won’t be able to play games…

But of all the people on my friends list, do I really know who they are?

Of the many people on my friends list I know the first name of 4. I’ve not met a single one.

Does that matter?

No, I don’t think so. If you have a list of online friends and they are treated as such: with a touch of caution; always kept at a certain distance with no personal details ever shared. It doesn’t matter a great deal.

Add people to your friends list who you really connect with

Caution still needs to be taken when adding friends. The disappointment of an online friend showing their true colours cuts deep. From my post ‘Children Playing Online’ here’s the advice I give to adding friends:

Is the potential friend a similar age?

For kids 11 and under I would be asking if you, as a parent, know who this other person is. It’s best to stick to the people your child already knows at this age.

Manage friends

Most platforms that allow friend lists will have a delete, mute or block function. Sometimes there might also be a report function that may have to be used if the ‘friend’ is not who they seem.

Don’t accept friend requests from people they haven’t talked to

Just because someone played a game with you doesn’t mean you add them. And if they didn’t communicate in game they probably won’t do so in the future.

Further Reading

My post on helping your kids playing online: Children playing online.

My guidance on choosing a name for your child: What’s in a name?


Children playing online

When to let your children loose on public servers

I reckon young children, under 11, shouldn’t be let loose on public servers. Keep to closed groups/ private servers with their friends from school, relatives or you. At this early stage of development we’re trying to nurture them in a safe environment and give them a healthy attitude towards games. 

Even after 11 I’d be careful about letting them loose on their own in the online world. My 12yo nephew still plays Fortnite on single player or with friends due to not liking random players.

A note on single player games

There are plenty of great single player games to play. While they’re playing the game they can still chat to friends online. Especially good if they’re playing the same game.

Playing online with others

If you or your child play online games on public servers or join public forums there will come a time when you interact with others: they might have a great game and want to express this; spend 6 hours completing a bunch of quests with some good folks and want to add them as friends; someone might say something that they disagree with or something that angers them…

Here’s some tips to help you navigate your child through the social side of gaming:

If it’s negative then don’t bother

If someone says something nasty, belittles their efforts, criticises their methods of play then they need to let it go. Will it matter in an hour’s time? Nope. Will it matter in a week’s time? Nope. Remember, it’s just a game and played for enjoyment or escapism from the stresses of daily life.

The same goes if you find your child doing the above. If they are belittling others online then it’s probably time for them to take a break and time for you to chat to them…

Going down this path of negativity so early on is probably a sign of greater issues. At least you can identify this behaviour early and start addressing it (which is way beyond the scope of this site).

Don’t be quick to add friends

From personal experience I found that I ended up with a large list of people on my friends list that I don’t hear from or interact with after the initial honeymoon period. Also, you may find out very quickly that the person you’ve added has some hidden facets that you don’t want to be associated with…

Here are some questions your child should ask themselves and tips that may help them regarding online friends:

  1. Is the potential friend a similar age? For kids 11 and under I would be asking if you, as a parent, knows this other person. It’s best to stick to the people your child already knows.
  2. Manage friends. Most platforms that allow friend lists will have a delete, mute or block function.
  3. Don’t accept friend requests from people they haven’t talked to! Just because someone played a game with you doesn’t mean you add them. And if they didn’t communicate in game they probably won’t do so in the future.

Use voice communication wisely

Many players rely on hearing the slightest of sounds to give them an edge for their gameplay. Chatting about your day or not setting your microphone up properly is not going to go down well.

Many chat programs will have an option for ‘push to talk’. This means pressing a button to broadcast to the chat group and is excellent for managing what is said and when.

Don’t give away personal information

Minimise the personal information you share! Don’t say your exact age, instead give an age range e.g. teen, under 16, under 18, 20s, 30s, old git (my age range). Don’t ever give away a surname. Maybe consider giving your first name or nickname your friends call you by but only if you’ve known the person for some time.

No gaming devices in the bedroom

Don’t let your kids have any electric devices in their bedroom. This rule came from my brother in law and it works so well through its simplicity, phones stay downstairs along with everything else. This lessens the possibility of bad communication massively. It’s easy for you to keep an eye on your child’s behaviour/ reactions to messages.

The best and worst of gaming online

Thumbs up

One of the things that makes internet gaming so great is the global scope of its players. I’ve met so many people from around the world: Norway, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Lithuania to mention a few. These are people that are on my friend list that I’ve had great times with – past tense as I have little time for gaming any more 🙁

I’ve written a post about the global gaming community: The diversity of the gaming community.

Thumbs down

In gaming online there is nothing as annoying as a fellow player who is an arse. I’ve met every single kind of idiot in my gaming life. From pure shouty hatred idiot to insipid comments about my aim statistics being below par idiot… When you’re happily playing your game, ignoring the stresses of daily existence, having someone stick a spanner in the works is a jolt to the system.

Idiot management

Learning how to deal with idiots is something your child will have to do in real life and online.

Unlike real life, most games with in-game communication will have a mute function, I reach for this the instant I’ve got my doubts about someone. Many games will also have a report function so you can report a player – then mute them… Other than that it’s a case of letting things go.