Talking points: Online gaming

online gaming parents

Talking points: Online gaming

Here are some helpful talking points to help start the conversation with your child about online gaming:

1. Can you show me your favourite game?

It is a good idea to get to know the games yourself, why not sit down with your child and let them show you how the game is played. Talk to your child about what they can do in the game they are playing. What is the overall objective of the game, what do they like most about playing it, and is there anything about the game that they don’t like.


2. Can you play against other kids?

Some games have optional multi-player modes where your child can play with and against others. Make sure you are clear on whether you are happy for your child to play with others. If you are, ask them who they are playing with? Establish rules around this that you can both agree on. Most games have a rating you can check to see if they are age appropriate.


3. How much time should you spend playing?

It makes life a lot easier if you bring this subject up early on; it can be tricky to change well-established practices. Talk about why it is important to have limits. it is a good opportunity to talk about the importance of being active, being outdoors, and spending time in the company of other children.  Striking a suitable balance is key.

Remember, it can be hard to enforce restrictions. It can also be difficult to accurately track the amount of time they are spending playing the game. Some devices allow you to use parental controls to strictly enforce daily or weekly limits. In many cases, the device simply switches off once the allocated time has been exceeded. While this is handy; it can be very frustrating for a child who is just about to reach a landmark in the game after a great deal of effort. We recommend not relying exclusively on parental controls. Use them to support your usual parenting approaches.


4. Can you chat with the other kids you are playing?

Many games allow players to chat with each other. Agree rules around this, ask your child about who they think it is okay to talk to online. Discuss your expectations around the type of language they should not use and how they treat others. Be very clear on consequences of using bad language, being disrespectful, or not following the other agreed rules. The threat of withdrawing access to the game can be a good deterrent to bad behaviour.

Check if the game gives the option of disabling chat and if there is a safe chat mode. Some games allow limited forms of chatting where gamers can communicate with each other by selecting from a menu of phrases.  


5. What sort of information is NOT okay to share when gaming?

Explain to them the importance of not giving away any personal information online. In the case of online gaming it is a good idea not use real names for game profiles and not to share passwords with friends.


6. What would you do if something inappropriate happens when you are playing a game online?

It is important that your child is familiar with safety setting, privacy and reporting tools. It is equally important that your child understands they can talk to you if they experience anything inappropriate online. This is also a good opportunity to encourage your child to play fairly and treat other gamers with respect. 

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Worried about something you have seen online or concerned about your child? Childline and the National Parents Council Primary offer free advice and support service.

Childline is a support service for young people up to the age of 18.There is a 24hr telephone, online and mobile phone texting service.

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