I should start with a statement by saying that games should be enjoyed by all, no matter what age, sex, race, anyone should be allowed to play and enjoy gaming. In this day in age, where most of the gaming world is online based, playing with hundreds, thousands or even millions of other players online, it can be as daunting as walking into a new class at school.
Personally, the problem I’ve found growing up is too many kids are playing games way above their age limit. This isn’t always the case, but because some kids don’t know how to properly talk to people online, then they get the bad end of the chat; we’re talking trash talks, swearing, in bad cases straight up racism. The online world of gaming is, and can be, a wonderful place, but not all of it is unfortunately.
Because of this, kids pick up bad behaviours like this and replicate it to other players becoming the instigators themselves. I’m not sure of the number of times I’ve been told to go fuck myself by someone who sounds like they are about 8, but it’s up there in the hundreds. But this behaviour is reflecting onto other players, potentially other kids as well, thinking this is the right way to behave. Then the parents notice this and who do they blame? The gaming companies, who have done nothing but develop and spent time, energy, money and dedication into their creation.
Well, this might not be the article to completely solve bad behaviour online and age certified games going to the right age groups, but a little bit of your time, including you parents, to read this might improve online stability, as well as child safety and security.
I’ll be honest straight from the start, and say growing up, I played games that were above my age limit, which doesn’t necessarily make it ok, but by a certain age you know how to behave and act like a normal(ish) human being. It should, SHOULD be that the gaming stores should always ask for ID before selling an 18 or some cases 16 certified game to a customer, but this isn’t always the case. If you have been asked or pressured by your child to buy a game for them, check the age first. If the age is ok and you are still really unsure, the cashier should know what the game is about and give you an accurate answer on what the game entails, if you are worried that much of course.
On many of the most updated consoles, they have added security measures in place that many parents don’t know about; whether it’s because it’s confusing or just don’t have the time to do it properly, I understand. But give it some time, it can do some amazing things! Take the Xbox for example, you can put yourself in charge of what content your child is able to view.
For instance, if they decide to view the Microsoft store, they will be restricted into only seeing content suitable for them. They will need permission, or some cases a code from yourselves if you decide to set one, to purchase any content. It can send you activity reports to your email, detailing what your child has been doing on their account. It can help blanket out sensitive content on website apps such as Microsoft Edge. It can even be used to dedicate how much ‘screen time’ they are allowed when they play on their Xbox. All these features are easily accessible and easily adjustable. You just gotta put a little time into setting it up.
I know it’s rich, especially from someone who doesn’t have kids of their own yet. But ultimately, you know your child, you know their limits, their behaviours, their morals, and it is down to you what they can or can’t do. As long as they are under your wing, it is you who can say what they can or can’t play. I mean there are limits; I was playing 18 rated games at 16 years old and such, but I was mature enough to know what was happening. It’s down to you to understand if your kid is mature enough to see what content they should see. Especially online. Online play is and can be an amazing experience, a great place to chat all those friendly and welcome. But your kid needs to learn to be safe and secure online.
Remember, it is you as the parent, who understands your child’s limitations and boundaries they should adhere to when playing games. Don’t peer pressure into buying them a game just because their friends have it. Check the age rating, check the content, set up the safety and security settings on their consoles. If they can treat people in the real world with respect, why should that change when they go online?
Here are some helpful links to get set up with safety and security on both the Xbox and PS4 consoles.