The following post is the first in a series of summer-related posts.
Today’s post is written by Jason Phillips (no relation).
Safeguarding Kids on Social Media/Video Games During the Summer Months
Okay, school is out, and the kids are ready to play! Play video games, that is. Gear up the couch, set up the snacks, and plop those kids on the couch – it’s summer! While you may not be excited that the kids are going to be couch potatoes, they sure are. Don’t forget…they are itching to get online and give your personal information out to complete strangers.
So here’s the bottom line: your children are targets. They are targets to corporate marketing companies, internet predators, and cyber bullies. Everyone wants a piece of your child, because they are young, impressionable and easy to manipulate.
You may be asking yourself – “Self, how do we raise children to live safely in a world with social networking? When are they old enough to drive around in that world on their own? What tools do they need to cope with that world? How can we help them to be successful and safe in that world?” Well, the answer is this: school your kids.
We all know that we need to protect children in the physical world; we also need to realize that there can be just as much danger in the online world. The risks of networking online are becoming well-known, in part, through media attention. Risks for children and teens include:
- Sharing one’s personal information with the wrong crowd. Unsupervised online contact with adults and older or manipulative kids can potentially lead to personal physical danger.
- Bullying. Harassment may occur online only (cyber bullying), or it may spill over to offline bullying committed by a schoolmate who has located his victim online.
- The permanency of online profiles. Once information has been shared on the Internet, it’s out there — forever! Retrieving information that others have read and captured is nearly impossible. Sharing one’s personal profile, words, pictures and videos can potentially lead to future embarrassment, harassment and even discrimination in employment and school admissions (although the latter concern is being addressed).
- Misinformation. Kids can find inaccurate and misleading information about a variety of topics.
By 2005, 91% of children had regular access to the Internet and online material, and the online world has brought forth a slew of new opportunities for social interactions for children and adolescents. The line between video games and online content has blurred in the past few years due to many games’ inclusion of online content, including options to share personal data, interact with other players in online competitions, and immerse oneself in the worlds of Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG).
As of 2010, 93% of teens (12-17) go online, and of the children (0-5) who use the Internet, 80% use it at least once a week.97% of teens (12-17) play computer, web, portable, or console games.
Here are a few tips to make sure your online gaming experience is okay for your child:
- Teach your child to use voice chat wisely, make him or her aware of voice masking technology.
- Make sure your child uses suitable screen names (aka gamer tags) that are appropriate for his or her age.
- Make sure your child knows what a cyber-bully is and why it’s bad.
As a parent, you need to be educated on your child’s games.
- Go ahead and use parental controls on all your gaming devices, and make sure you know about the games your child plays.
- Make sure you know how the mechanics, social interactions, and online content work.
- Make yourself knowledgeable of ALL of the games that he or she plays, and most of all, watch your child play. You might just gain some insight into your child’s online habits.
Do you limit your child’s screen time during the summer? What safety measures have you put in place?
Author Bio: The article is written by experienced writer Jason Phillips. He owns an online gaming website Tom and Jerry Games 365. Apart he is a loving father who spends his free time with his kids.