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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:

Of too much light, as from a screen, at night

Of too much “blue” light, any time of day

Any type of “screen time” can harm your toddler’s mental development

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.