With the explosion of addictive gaming experiences available online, it can be difficult for parents to know exactly what their children are playing, seeing, and being exposed to. With more than 2 billion people around the world playing video games, it’s no wonder IGD (Internet Gaming Disorder) is on the rise.
The word ‘games’ implies fun – but some of these popular online experiences, even those aimed at kids, contain worrying content. Even scarier, the online gaming world is notorious for containing online predators – especially where games are marketed to children.
So what should you be looking out for?
☠️ Roblox Roblox is an online platform where games can be both made and played by users. While imaginative play is to be applauded, there are games on the platform that have horror or bloody themes.
Roblox themselves do offer parental controls, but it’s important to check what types of games your child is actually accessing.
Roblox also contains an online chat feature, where players can connect with other players around the world. This poses a significant danger, as the nature of anonymous chat means that we can’t be sure who our kids are interacting with.
☠️ Among Us Among Us is rated as PEGI 7 on the Google Play Store, which implies that the game is safer for younger children. Although the game’s visuals may not be as traumatizing or violent as other online games, the issue with Among Us is the online chat feature within this app, whereby children can chat and play with strangers anywhere in the world. As mentioned above, this feature poses the possibility of children coming into contact with unsavory characters, and engaging in conversation with them. Online anonymous chats also pose a cyberbullying risk.
☠️ Candy Crush A cute sweets game, dangerous? The issue with this smartphone game is the ‘near-misses’ feature. Research studying the effects of near-misses in games has investigated the gambling element to these games – and the desire to extend play, despite frustrating outcomes. The near-misses are tantalizing, compelling us to keep playing.
This technique is used in other combat games as well – players can see when they’ve just missed getting to the next level. These digital features serve to encourage screen addiction.
☠️ Fortnite The fact that there are 350 million registered Fortnite players worldwide definitely tells us something – this game is super addictive. Fortnite’s creators Epic Games use machine learning and data analysis to enhance the player’s experience, which will keep them engaged and playing for longer – leading to more screen addiction. The ‘intermittent reward’ feature also aids in prolonging play, as kids are eager to reach the next desired element.
Other complaints that parents have made about Fortnite is the amount of money spent on virtual items in the game – if your child is an avid player, this game can end up costing you quite a bit!
☠️ Project Makeover Project Makeover is a puzzle game for iOS and Android devices. Despite the app’s intention to position the makeover experience as a positive, confidence-building event, the focus on fashion, beauty and physical appearance is a little worrying. For example, the app encourages the user to wax the model’s legs – but why is this the pinnacle of acceptance in society?
Makeover apps perpetuate harmful stereotypes about beauty, as well as emphasizing the importance of being attractive – but in today’s world, acceptance of others is a much more important message.
☠️ Call of Duty In terms of gore and nightmarish content, Call of Duty is pretty disturbing. Due to the amount of violence, profanity and blood-spewing, this is definitely a game that needs parental guidance. On the one hand, at a basic level it’s a war game, and marketed as such – so of course it will be gruesome. On the other hand – do we really want to expose our kids to all that massacre?
☠️ Assassin’s Creed As with Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed is particularly graphic in terms of its violent content. Brutal battles, execution scenes, and murders are all included in this game – none of which is recommended for young viewers (or even older viewers!)
Playing digital games, socializing online, as well as practicing reflexes! – these are all a part of today’s childhood. As parents, the best thing we can do is help our children to navigate the world of online gaming safely.
Thousands of families around the world are already using parental control apps, such as the FamilyKeeper app.
A parental control app like FamilyKeeper will:
- Notify you if incendiary keywords are used
- Supervise which apps your child is downloading
- Allow you to block age-inappropriate websites
- Help to protect your child from online predators
- Alert you when unknown numbers or profiles attempt to contact your child
- Detect suspicious or dangerous images
FamilyKeeper also encourages parents to discuss with their children the dangers of these apps, and why a parental control app is an important safety feature. During the app set-up process, you can review with your child when, why, and how to use certains apps and sites – and why some may not be a good idea.