As a parent, you likely fall into the “old school” category when it comes to video games and online gaming. It’s possible that these things didn’t even exist for most of your life. This state of mind can become a real problem when it comes to your child’s online gaming.
Until just a few years ago, playing on video game consoles like XBOX and Playstation meant inviting a few friends over and playing in a small group.
But with the implementation of the Internet, the game has changed…
Your child can now log on to a virtual community of gamers, almost all of whom are complete strangers. Online computer games are more of the same; World of Warcraft and Second Life are two examples of games in which avatars interact in “imaginary” worlds. Unfortunately, these interactions are very real, and children are especially vulnerable to the potential dangers of virtual gaming.
Threats Posed to Children by Virtual Gaming Worlds
- As in any online environment, sexual predators can easily disguise themselves when interacting with your child. They can spend months playing with your child in the virtual world without anyone knowing their true age or motives.
- Cyberbullying is a problem in any online gaming community. People feel at liberty to say whatever they want because they’re not face to face with the person they are talking to. Just as physical bullying in school is an issue any parent would worry about, cyberbullying should also be a concern.
- There are many physical and emotional changes that can occur in your child, especially if he/she becomes addicted to virtual gaming.
The violence and inappropriate subject matter that your child may be exposed to can rub off, making him/her more violent or vulgar. The environment of cyberbullying could turn your child into the one verbally abusing others, in the real and virtual worlds. Lack of exercise, poor hygiene, and loss of interest in anything but gaming are also potential side effects of online gaming.
What You As a Parent Can Do
The most important thing for you to do as a parent it to CARE. Use this acronym to improve your child’s online safety.
Conversations – Monitor what your child is talking about with people online. Almost all online problems begin with a simple conversation. Make sure you know who your child’s online friends are and what they are talking about.
Ask – The best way to know what your children are doing online is to ask them, which is something simple that is often neglected by parents. Showing interest in your child’s online activity will teach you a lot about what he/she is doing. A little effort can save you from a lot of potential problems down the road.
Rules – Once you know what your children are doing online, make sure they understand that virtual gaming is a privilege that must be used wisely. Put time restrictions on their daily computer or video game use. Let them know what is permitted and what will result in them losing their gaming privileges.
Educate – Sit down with your children and let them know what they are getting themselves into. Teach them to be cautious for online predators and what to do when they encounter cyberbullies. Make sure they know not to give out personal information to stranger.
As a parent of an online gamer, don’t use ignorance as an excuse. Know what your child is doing and make an effort to provide a safe and responsible environment to protect your child from danger.
About the Author
Chris Faires is a writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them search for online degrees that can help them reach their goals.
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