Keeping Young People Safe Online

Gaming

While you might have fond memories of videogames like Mario Kart and Sonic the Hedgehog, children and young people today will probably be more familiar with games like Rocket League, Fortnite or FIFA. In the realm of online gaming, young people are immersed in a sea of interactive experiences. They engage with games across various platforms and interact with other players, both known and unknown to them in their offline life. It is crucial to understand the potential risks associated with the gaming world and what you can do to help protect the young people in your care.

Click or Tap this box to learn more about where you can find support

Other contacts:

  • If you need guidance and support on issues affecting children you can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 500 or email [email protected]
  • Parentline: is a free and confidential helpline and online chat service for parents and carers in Northern Ireland.
  • ParentingNI: provide a free support line and webchat for parents and carers in Northern Ireland.
  • PSNI website: provides advice and support for parents/carers or other adult involved in protecting a child.
  • YoungMinds: For information and guidance on the impact of gaming on mental health, you can visit the YoungMinds website.
  • The Mix: If you are a young person and require advice on this issue, you can contact The Mix on 0808 808 4994, text ‘THEMIX’ to their Crisis messenger on 85258, or contact them via their online email form. A 1-2-1 chat option is also available, which is free webchat service.

What you need to know

By understanding the dynamics of young people’s gaming interactions, being aware of the content they engage with, and recognising the potential risks they may face, parents and safeguarding professionals can promote a safe and positive gaming environment, foster healthy habits and responsible online behaviour. To do this, the key things you should learn about are…

  • The gaming landscape: Gain a basic understanding of gaming, including popular game genres, platforms, and the appeal of gaming among young people.
  • Age-appropriate content: Be aware of game ratings and ensure that the games your child or the young individuals you work with are appropriate for their age. This includes violence, explicit language, and graphic imagery. Familiarise yourself with rating systems like PEGI (Pan European Game Information) to make informed decisions.
  • Setting boundaries and screen time: Establish clear guidelines for screen time and gaming sessions. Encourage a healthy balance between gaming, physical activity, social interactions, and other responsibilities. Establishing consistent routines and limits can help prevent excessive gaming and its potential negative impacts.
  • Online interactions: Multiplayer gaming involves interactions with other players, including strangers. This creates potential risks, such as exposure to inappropriate language, bullying, or even grooming. Educate children and young people about online safety, the importance of not sharing personal information, and encourage reporting any concerning behaviour.
  • Gambling and in-app purchases: Most games have a form of loot boxes (in-game treasure chests) for purchase, which could result in unhealthy spending habits, especially when boxes offer competitive advantages. Children and young people may not understand the mechanics of gambling (like risk and reward) and this increases chances of possible exploitation.

 

To help parents and carers support neurodivergent children as they game, Internet Matters have created a series of videos and guides. Designed to help young people spot risks and take action online, this series encourages online safety to help neurodivergent young people benefit from games.

Welcome to the Online Safety Hub

How old are you?

If you are under 18, click the blue button below to visit the Online Safety Hub micro-site for children and young people.