Online Gaming: Everything You Need To Know As A Parent

Online gaming is a wonderful thing, but to an outsider it may seem..arbitrary, and irrelevant. 

If you’re a parent/guardian, you’ve likely had it explained that you cannot pause online games, and so on. 

So today, we’re going over some easy ways to relate to your child and understand this hobby of theirs, a primer on everything you could ever need to know!

Ready, Player 1

To begin, I’m going to assume you have an idea of what a video game is. If not, your child could explain that much to you. 

Online video games typically fall into two categories; Multiplayer and Massively Multiplayer, the difference between those being rather substantial. 

A Multiplayer game is a game where multiple people play together, either locally, meaning they are in the same room, or online, meaning they are far away from each other. A Multiplayer game is usually something like a board game or fighting game, or a racing game, activities that require two or more players to play. 

A Massively Multiplayer game is much grander in scale, being whole virtual worlds where players can interact with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people at a time, all connected to the same server. These games are usually roleplaying games, where players can create characters and immerse themselves in a new world. Think World of Warcraft, or Club Penguin, if you recognise either name. 

There’s a few key similarities and differences between both types of online game, such as requiring an internet connection to play with other players, but I’m sure you, the presumed parent/guardian reading this article, don’t need to know the technical details. I’m sure you care more about what you need to know for your child’s sake. Allow me, then, to educate you,

Information Highway Zone Act 2

I’m sure that if you sought out an article like this one, you did so wanting to know if online gaming was dangerous, and if you should even allow your child to do so with the kind of people you’ve likely heard of that have been using platforms similar to this to harm children. 

The short answer is: Yes and no. The stories you’ve heard are almost certainly true, but the solution is not to panic and ban them from your home. 

Instead, you should try to teach your child the possible dangers, such as shady websites asking for personal information, or malicious players either hacking them for their IP Address or trying to convince them to send them personal information themselves. 

Teach them not to give away personal information, and make sure you define what that is, such as where they live, or their full legal name. These sorts of people do exist, certainly, your fears are not unfounded, but they are far less common than you think. Speaking as someone who has used Massively Multiplayer Online games since he was around the age of eleven, I’ve only seen a few such users in my time, so don’t try to fearmonger your child. 

Yes, there are some bad apples out there, but in a bunch so astronomically large, they can’t spoil it that easily. It may be tempting to tell your child not to trust anyone online, and while that would certainly work, there is immense value in them meeting and befriending people from all over the world. 

Once more speaking from experience, I’ve met people through online games such as ROBLOX and created a friend group from those people that I’ve grown to know, love and cherish over the past six or seven years (Nate, Jacob, Maya, hey guys!) and it’s because of me meeting those friends despite the huge geographical distance between all of us that I’ve grown so much as a person, learned more about other ways of life and broadened my horizons so much.

It’s best, in my opinion, to teach your child how to recognise, avoid and combat the dangers of the online world instead of barring them from it altogether, as the experiences and enrichment it can provide them could be life changing.

Boss Battle: The Great Big HOWEVER.

It is very, very important that you listen to your child when it comes to matters such as this. 

The fact that you have sought out and/or required an article such as this one means you very clearly do not fully understand the modern online world, and that’s okay. You don’t have to. You should always approach the topic with curiosity and an open mind, asking your child questions. 

Be interested in what they do online, but not suspicious of it. Your kid is smarter than you may think they are, and they can tell when you’re approaching their hobbies with negative preconceptions. 

Don’t talk down to them about what they’re doing, don’t tell them that everyone online is a criminal and/or thirty year old man, and most importantly do not disregard what they say. If you want to keep an eye on what your child does online, show a genuine interest in it. 

Ask them what games they play, or if they have any online friends. If they do have any online friends, ask about them like you’d ask about real life friends. If you’re exceptionally curious, ask your child if they can teach you how to play. Who knows, you might end up taking an interest in it yourself!

Roll Credits

In conclusion, this is a matter that needs to be treated with delicate care and consideration. It’s a lot more complicated than trying to defend your pride and joy in human form, it’s more about teaching them to defend themselves. 

As someone who’s been in the position your child currently is, I know that I’d much rather feel like my parent/guardian trusts me to be safe online, instead of the opposite extreme of the issue, that being feeling like they can’t tell you about their online friends because you wouldn’t trust them to have them.