Accompany children in gaming
Computer games, video games and mobile games, in short: digital games, are popular and sought after by many children and young people. For parents and everyone who works with children and young people, this is a good reason to take a closer look at leisure interests, constantly changing content and technology. klicksafe offers you tips for sensible and responsible media education here in cooperation with the Spielatgeber-NRW.
Risks and problems in gaming
For millions of children and young people, digital games are part of their daily leisure activities. The absolute majority of them have positive experiences with it, but there are also some negative aspects that you should be aware of. We have described some of these problems below and provide tips on how you can deal with them.
Contacting children and young people with the aim of preparing sexual abuse is called cybergrooming. Perpetrators look for platforms where they can meet many children. You can find detailed information on this topic in the Cybergrooming section.
Cost traps in games
Lootboxes, free-to-play, microtransacions - there are now many mechanisms to get players to spend money in games. Children in particular can quickly lose track of the actual costs. With in-game purchases, players can buy game advantages or obtain digital items for their game characters or game worlds. These can have a high value for children, similar to toys, trading cards or stickers. Try to understand why your child wants to make a purchase and then decide together.
Almost all games and game consoles are now linked to the Internet. Registration is usually required to use games and services. Make children and young people aware of the need to provide as little data as possible online. Large gaming platforms have often been the target of data theft. Therefore, also make password protection a topic and set up two-factor authentication.
Toxic gaming community
In the online world surrounding video games, millions of people come together every day. Unfortunately, it's not always friendly. Insults, threats, bullying and harassment are no exceptions. How problematic the community is definitely varies from game to game and platform to platform. In serious cases, you can get help from Hate Aid or other counseling services, for example.
Not all games are suitable for children and young people. In Germany, the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) checks all games before publication and assigns an age rating. However, these are not recommendations or pedagogical assessments. A game with a rating of six years or older is therefore not necessarily suitable for all six-year-olds.
Games as a gateway to the Internet
Huge fan communities have grown up around many popular video games. As a fan, you don't just play the game, you also watch the YouTube videos of the relevant influencers, follow their social media channels on Instagram and TikTok, participate in communities on Discord and Steam, follow live streams on the Twitch platform and much more. So, a fascination with a game can be an entry point into a variety of other platforms that are not necessarily appropriate for children.
Where "excessive" gaming begins is something that probably has to be negotiated individually in every family. Binding, comprehensible and jointly drawn up regulations on media consumption offer you and your child orientation and can avoid disputes. You can find more information on this topic in the "Addiction and dependence" section.
Tips for parents
- Agree with your child on clear rules for contact with strangers on the Internet (e.g. do not send personal data and photos, do not accept gifts).
- Check whether it is possible to prevent contact by strangers in the settings of the game or platform.
- If something has already happened, you can gethelp froma counseling center.
- If possible, check before starting the game whether a game offers in-game purchases and how aggressively these are pushed to the players.
- If possible, do not link bank accounts to accounts or devices. Instead, use credit cards that can be bought in supermarkets, for example.
- Check whether purchases can be blocked in the settings or secured with a password.
- Agree on age-appropriate rules for purchases in games: e.g. no purchases, purchases only after consultation or only a fixed amount each week.
- Agree with younger children that accounts may only be created with adults.
- When creating an account: Do not use clear names, do not use a profile picture where the face is recognizable, and do not provide an address unless it is absolutely necessary.
- All accounts should be protected with a strong password. It is important that the password is unique for each service. If two-factor authentication is offered, use it.
- Check whether the collection of usage data can be prevented in the settings.
- Check whether a game allows contact with strangers and then decide whether your child is mature enough for this.
- Set up rules of conduct with your child for your own communication as well. For example: insults, bullying and unfair play are forbidden.
- Check together with your child whether the platform offers reporting, complaint and blocking systems and encourage your child to use them or support them in doing so.
- Before buying, check the age rating of the game on the packaging, in the online store or at www.usk.de.
- Find out, for example, from the Spielatgeber-NRW, whether the game is also suitable for children from an educational point of view.
- If possible, get an impression of the game content yourself. For example, have your child demonstrate the game to you.
- Some devices allow you to prevent access to unsuitable content. For example, www.medien-kindersicher.decan help with the setting.
- Regularly inquire about what your child is currently enthusiastic about. Let them show you the services they use and try to understand what is fascinating about them.
- Find out about the services your child uses or would like to use. Check whether these services are age-appropriate or can be configured accordingly.
- Make your child aware of how influencers earn their money and what commercial interests often pervade their content.
- Stick to a binding rule: homework first, then a break, then play.
- Avoid using play as a reward or punishment.
- Suggestions for sensible arrangements can be found at www.mediennutzungsvertrag.de.