Saturday 25 January 2014

Take the battle out of online gaming

The internet: an omniscient, superfast, multilingual tutor on hand 24 hours a day. It’s the Mary Poppins of Generation Z. You can send your kids to the Louvre for an afternoon’s artefact tour or a dive below the surface of the ocean to explore the craggy wreck of the Titanic, merely by tapping a phrase into Google. The possibilities are endless. But what do kids want to do? Well, it usually involves the expulsion of an irate bird from a giant catapult. Playing fun online games is just as important to them as anything the internet can teach them, so how can you safeguard your children when their playground seems too giant and unpredictable a place to police?

Play the name game
It’s tough, but the first step in safeguarding your children when they venture online is to hand over some of the responsibility to them. Many online games for kids require some sort of username or login information. You should stress the importance of a neutral, anonymous username and watertight password to your children, so that when they do setup their gaming accounts, whether via a console, shared PC or their own device, they will make the right decision.

Childproof the environment 
You would never leave a toddler in an unfamiliar environment, so why would you let your kids play online without taking some precautions first? Installing a well-reviewed filtering package and tailoring the controls to your child’s age is a great place to start. There will probably be some free, pre-installed software lurking on the hard-drive of your PC or Mac, too. Exploit it for basic benefits like setting Safe Search to default in all search engines. Making sure all your home browsers are installed with an ad and popup blocker will not only prevent the most aggressive and persistent ads, it will also stop those irritating messages which have been clogging up your own browsing time: everyone’s a winner! 

Don’t let them get tangled in the social network 
Social media sites can be fun, creative and exciting ifapproached with a little foresight. With Facebook in particular, It’s not just about being the requisite age to join (13), your child has to show they can handle the responsibility, too. At the very least they should be clear on the basics: don’t share your address, phone number, or any other private information with the public. If there is any doubt, sit down with them and help them review their privacy and security settings for photos, posts, and their ‘about’ section using your own Facebook page as an example. If you’re still worried, a program like Avira Social Network Protection can help you to monitor your kids’ safety on key social media platforms.

*This post is a guest post by Kelly. Kelly Arton is a mummy blogger from the West coast of Scotland. She writes on various parenting topics and gets her inspiration from life with her two daughters.

Image by MiikaSilfverberg, used under Creative Comms license.

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