Keeping Your Online Gamer Safe
For most parents these days, aside from regulating TV and computer use, the other main concern is how to protect their children from cyber bullies, hackers and stalkers - more so for children who are frequenting the computer for online games.
Online gaming poses serious risks for children in terms of identity theft, credit card fraud and online stalking, especially with frequent incidences of online gaming services getting hacked, thereby exposing confidential information that could cause harm to the whole family.
Here are some tips on ensuring that your child - and your home - is safe while playing his or her favorite online games.
1. Make sure that your computer is fully shielded. Activate the firewall and always make sure that you have updated anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Check also that your computer settings are set to be on guard for pop-up windows and automatic downloads. Use also other parental control settings on the computer to limit the sites that your child can access.
2. Position the computer in a place that you could easily view from afar while your child is using it so that you are aware of what he or she is doing online, whether it's just browsing, chatting or gaming.
3. Orient your children on the proper ways of using the internet.
4. Teach your child how to create a user name that does not directly identify a person and a password that is highly secure. Usernames and passwords have to be general words that do not contain a person's name, birthday, location, age or any other personal information that will make one easily identifiable and could allow hackers to get into the account. Passwords also need to be at least eight characters long and should contain letters, numbers and characters that do not have any easily identifiable pattern.
5. Instead of using his or her actual photos for their accounts, tell your child to make use of avatars, so that the other players are not able to recognize that a young child who is vulnerable is actually playing the game.
6. Tell your child to never give out any personal and private information to any one over the internet, and to be careful about passing on materials that may contain such confidential information. These include not only his or her names, but also the home address, phone number and other pertinent data.
7. Get involved in your child's online activities. Know about the games that they play, and play it with them if you can, so that you know what kind of information they could possibly be giving out, and what types of other players they may be interacting with.
Finally, if you think forbidding your child from going online will help protect him or her, think again. Forbidden fruit is always more appealing. They can easily get online when they are in school or at a friend's house, where you are not able to monitor them, so it's best to keep it all in the house within your line of vision.