Guest blog by Andy Robertson
Online Gaming in the Family
Video games have changed a lot over the last 20 years. When I played on my Commodore 64 and Spectrum 48k during my childhood they were expensive, short and offline. Now they are often free to play, endlessand online. This brings with it both challenges and opportunities for parents and carers of children who love to play games.
Today I’m writing about online gaming. Whereas previously if you wanted to play a game against another human being you had to be in the same room, now — as we all know — you simply connect your console or computer to the internet.
Children can use games to stay connected with friends, build community and engage with other kids from different cultures from all over the world. It also lets them have a lot of fun online playing together.
It also means that it is important that you set up the parental controls to limit how and what a child can share with other people. According to OFCOM, playing an online game is often the first place a young child will encounter and interact with someone they don’t know online.
The best way to keep things safe and healthy is to have game consoles and technology in shared family spaces. This ensures that you can see what’s going on. But also, if your child plays with a headset, get them to play without it from time to time so you can hear what’s going on.
This also makes it easier to take an interest in the games they play. Rather than just worrying about the total time on their screens, this means parents can start to understand the different activities that children engage in online.
Finally, we need to understand that all games are not equal. For instance, Fortnite, which I’ve included a parent’s guide video for below, offers an online gaming experience that is different from other games. Both in terms of why it’s enjoyable and what to watch out for.
A new game that many children will say is basically the same as Fortnite is Apex Legends. However, for parents, this is quite a different proposition. Not only is it rated PEGI 16 as opposed to Fortnite’s PEGI 12 rating, but how you play and interact with other players is quite different. Again, I’ve included my video here so you can see in a few minutes what the differences are.
There are lots of great resources to help you keep online gaming same and healthy:
- My new book Taming Gaming https://unbound.com/books/taming-gaming
- PEGI Ratings https://videostandards.org.uk/RatingBoard/
- AskAboutGames website http://www.askaboutgames.com/
Forbes, The Guardian, BBC, AskAboutGames, The Mirror, Telegraph, FamilyGamerTV