Six hours a week. That’s the national average for a U.S. kid, age 2-17, to spend time playing online games on a mobile device.
More surprising, though, is this fact: “Ninety-one percent of children play video games, and gaming among young children has increased the most.”
So how could a little kid get in trouble playing an online game?
First of all, some of my other blog posts show some dangers:
Many games now allow players to interact online. The danger there? It’s a virtual playground for a pedophile who can pretend to be another child and find out personal information that could endanger a child. This and other online dangers I talk about in this article about online safety.
What are some practical things you can do?
- Make sure you confer with your child about a screen name, and make sure it’s not alluring to a predator with words like “little” or “baby” or “teen” or similar term. In fact, tell your kid that the coolest characters in movies have letter-number names like BB8 or R2D2, and help them choose something equally cool that does not identify them personally.
- Make sure privacy setting on the devices your child uses are set to the highest level for games , apps, and social media.
- Each time the mobile device gets an update on any program, make sure your privacy settings remain at the highest level.
- Disable “check in” features that can let other see the physical location of your child.
- Tell them that any “secret” online is a bad secret. Talk to them regularly about their games. Show them that you are interested and want to be part of that.
- Be active and spontaneous (sneaky) in checking on when and how your child is gaming. This is not spying. This is your job.