There are a few simple steps you can follow to keep you safe when you’re gaming online.
Check the age rating
Before you start playing any game, check the age rating to see if it’s ok for someone your age. These rating are there for a reason- to make sure you don’t see things that might upset, frighten or worry you.
Any game that you download from the AppStore or Google Play will have an age rating. It should also tell you if the game contains horror, violence or sex. Any game that you buy to play online through your console will also have an age rating. But be careful: many games played through a website don’t have an age rating, so be choosy.
If you’re unsure about whether or not you should play a game, talk to your parents/carers or your school nurse. And remember, you should never feel pushed into playing a game that you don’t want to play.
Don’t forget the privacy settings
Many games let you set your own privacy settings, like on social media. This gives you more control over what other gamers can see about you, and over who can talk to you through the game.
Don’t give out personal information
Other gamers aren’t always who they say they are or the age they claim to be. If you do talk to people when playing a game, don’t give out any private information like your name, address, mobile number, email address, school or share any photos with them.
When setting up your profile for the game you want to play, make sure your nickname or username isn’t associated with you in any way, so couldn’t give your identity away.
Block and report users
If another gamer isn’t being very nice to you, most games let you block them so they can’t talk to you anymore. You should also report these gamers if they’re upsetting you or making you uncomfortable, and they could be removed from the game.
Work out how to block, mute and report other gamers before you start playing so you can take action as soon as someone does something that you don’t like.
Watch out for in-game purchase
A lot of games ask you to buy things while you’re playing so as to get an upgrade or move on to the next level. It’s important to be very careful with in-game purchases as the costs can add up.
Before you start playing a game, check to see whether you’ll need to make any further payments while you’re playing. If you do need to make a purchase to move on through the game, check with the person whose money you are spending before you go ahead and buy anything.
Take regular breaks
Getting away from the game and taking regular breaks is very important as online gaming can get a bit intense. If you find yourself getting angry or annoyed with what you’re playing, step away and do something different for a while.
Spend time with family or friends, go shopping or head to the park for some fresh air.
How to get help
If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your Public Health Nurse (School Nurse).
Find help in your local area
Find out what services are available to you in your area. Remember your school nurse is always there to give you confidential help and support.