Online Gaming- Everything You Should Know Before Buying for Your Kid
This may sound incredible to many, but do you know that almost every US average household owns at least one dedicated game console, PC or smartphone? (it’s the Entertainment Software Association that revealed that info). Mobile gaming has become more and more present in the game industry and nearly 63% of kids aged 2 and 17 are currently using various mobile devices for playing.
What are the benefits of online gaming?
There are many reasons for which you should consider online gaming so here are the most important ones:
- You get the game asap
If you’re determined to play a game the moment it’s released, using the digital form is going to be your best shot. It’s quite common for the digital releases to be able to re-install the game and start playing at midnight.
- You save space
When you or your kid are really into gaming, it’s only a matter of time until you realize that you don’t have enough space for storing it. In the case of digital games, you can actually build an impressive library of games right on your hard drive.
- You save money
Trying to save a buck? Online gaming is the best way to do it. Not only that you get better prices, but you can also find the best deals, especially if you get a membership.
What are the risks?
Online gaming has several inherent risks attached to it, but knowing more about these is the first step in preventing or at least greatly mitigating them. The first thing you need to be careful with is the actual online purchase of the games – buying them from shady websites can expose your personal information as well as the details of your payment method, which can then be used by the thieves for malicious purposes. Ideally, you should be using established, well known and community-endorsed websites such as G2Deal, a staple for online games shops. Not only will your purchase be 100% safe, but if you wish to get an even better deal, make sure to get one of the numerous G2Deal discounts codes and deals which can help you save up to 50% on your next order!
Once you have the game purchased and installed, the risks, unfortunately, don’t stop there. Online content is notorious for not being age-restricted as the various agencies that are determining the appropriate audience for games cannot rate the online interactions with other players. Below I’ll be outlining some of the key concerns related to this aspect so you can then make an informed decision:
A kid playing online has the opportunity to escape from real life as nobody knows exactly who he/she is, how he/she looks like, or what school he/she’s attending. There’s good and bad to this part, nevertheless. Some players may take advantage of this and make the gaming really unpleasant by purpose. They could go for the “kill stealing” or “chaining” groups of high-level monsters into poor players, making them die.
The risk of this grief turning into cyberbullying is pretty high. It’s not uncommon for one to “whisper” damaging and harmful messages or to spam some global chat channels, talking trash about the victims.
Stay close with your kid and don’t forget that most games are going to allow the user to “block” various messages and chats. It’s not impossible for the bully’s words and actions to be in contradiction with the game’s terms of service. Take a screenshot of any disturbing conversation and report it forward to the game administrators. They’re going to know what needs to be done.
- Privacy concerns
It’s best that your kid never uses names that are made from their real names or something that tells about their age or location. Unfortunately, the social nature of online gaming may allow cybercriminals to give the conversation a certain direction. One may single out a kid in a general chat channel, asking for detailed personal information later on. A good hacker only needs to put together the pieces for getting access to the existing accounts. Therefore, you should never give your kid some personal information; always create names and passwords different in various games or gaming sites.
- The online predators
Some older gamers are going to use video games for luring some younger players. Webcam chats, inappropriate messages, and even face-to-face meetings may lead to sexual behavior. Unfortunately, online gaming is going to offer the predators the opportunity to develop an online experience and even become one’s defender. An online predator may defend a younger victim and create a strong connection. More often than not, online predators are determined to turn the kids against their parents and become the only person on this planet that truly understands them.
We cannot stress enough about the importance of monitoring the gameplay and having conversations with your kid about the online predators
- Webcam concerns
More than 4,500US webcams were hacked in a year and any connected device (no matter if it’s an audio device or a webcam) can be controlled by attackers. It’s fundamental that you scan the system for malware on a regular basis, checking to see if the webcam’s default setting is “off” all the time.
- Leaving personal info on consoles or PCs
It’s incredible, but the consoles and the PCs pose a risk for the safety of your kid when playing games online. Once a kid is done with his/her playing device (there are better models as we speak), you may want to take it to an electronic recycling center or sell it on some swap sites. It’s pretty common for one to forget deleting the personal information and the files, which only raises the risk for the personal information to be used by a third-party. Don’t forget to delete all the personal data from tablets, game consoles, and even smartphones.
Some devices may feature storage spaces that aren’t affected by the erasing functions. You need to connect them to the PC, deleting the data in a safe way. Don’t just use the “delete” function for your PC, as you’re not going to eliminate the data from the drive per se. You should use a program that overwrites the data several times, deleting the personal data.
Trojans can change a proper app and upload a malicious version to Google Play or other marketplaces. Once downloaded, the Trojan is going to execute and take control of your Android device, rending your device part of a larger “botnet”. As the malware typically operates on a delay timer, you’re not going to see online gaming as the main cause.
It goes without saying that you should always pay attention to which app you’re downloading. Even if an app looks legitimate, but so it does a masquerade one. Go online and take a look at the reviews, look for the developers, making sure that the app is 100% safe before downloading it. Use reputable sources when downloading an app.
You should be approving all mobile downloads and make time for installing a trustworthy mobile anti-malware scanner so that you may check your devices any now and then.
- The hidden fees
If you know a thing or two about online gaming, the term “freemium” may sound familiar. Freemium means that you may obtain some content for free, while you’re going to have to pay to access other parts of the game. For instance, Windows 10 users have to pay in order to play specific modes of classic games if they don’t want to be interrupted by ads. You can also use real money for buying a virtual sword/a piece of armor or for getting more experience for your characters.
Most of the time, you’re going to need to sign up for a credit card before playing and the game is going to use it automatically when you’re buying other items or services. However, make sure that you never give away your card number for freemium games. Check your credit card bills on a regular basis, making sure that you’re not charged for purchases you know nothing about. Don’t forget to switch off the “in-app updates” on your tablet/smartphone too; this is going to stop your kid from making purchases without even knowing.
One last thought
Online gaming is great for so many reasons but you should never leave the risks out of sight, especially when it’s your kid playing online.