Online gaming tips for parents

Gaming tips for parents

Technology today is so pervasive. Our children have access to much more technology than many of us did when we were growing up. As parents, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on what your children are doing online, to know the games they play and websites they visit and to establish ground rules early.

Monitor your child’s online activity, including games. Some online games that you can download “for free” may attach malicious software to your device. Only download from legitimate sources like the Apple Store or Google Play Store (not from random links). Also to avoid potential “cross contamination,” don’t use your primary computer for games. Use a separate computer or device for games – preferably one in a common area where you can easily see it. Another way to avoid cross contamination is to set up a separate email account for games that require registration.

Set ground rules. This will depend on your comfort level and child’s age but in general, limit screen time to something reasonable – for example, my kids are all under 13 years old and their limit is one hour of screen time a day. Of course, this assumes all chores and homework are done!

  • Respect the maturity ratings on games. These ratings are intended to protect your children from content they are not ready for. If you respect them, your children are more likely to avoid content that’s rated “mature”.

  • Teach them to safeguard personal information, such as address, phone number, age, photos. Set clear restrictions on what they can share or post.

  • Remind them to be as careful when online as in the real world and react as if approached by a stranger in the mall or park. Remember -- the more they share with the outside world, the more vulnerable they may be to predators.

  • "Stranger danger" applies in online gaming. Your kids should report any attempts from strangers to communicate with them or cyberbullying, especially in a competitive online gaming environment.

Disable chat; don’t enable microphone or camera. Consider disabling the online chat feature because chat could expose your child to language or concepts that he/she isn’t ready for. Some games or websites require enabling the microphone or camera feature. Don’t. No good can come from it.

Consider enabling monitoring features. You can set up parameters through your router to filter out categories such as gambling, pornography. This adds some protection but isn’t foolproof and shouldn’t be solely relied upon.

In summary, be watchful, be wary, keep the lines of communication open with your kids.

Michael Miranda is Hawaiian Telcom's Information Security Director, a GSNA Systems and Network Auditor (GSNA), Certified Intrusion Analyst (GCIA), Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA), Digital Forensics instructor (UHWO) and Supervisory Committee member (HSFCU). Reach him at michael.miranda@hawaiiantel.com.