Cheshire Constabulary is getting behind a national campaign aimed at raising awareness of the risks posed to children whilst playing games online.
This summer holiday, a significant number of children will be picking up their tablets and games console controllers to embark on a six week marathon of online gaming. According to a survey of 2,000 parents with children aged 5 – 18, nine in ten (91%) parents say their kids play games online. While the majority of parents say they limit the amount of time their children spend online gaming, a third (34%) admit that their child plays at least once a day.
Get Safe Online, the public private joint internet safety initiative, today revealed more than a third (37%) of parents feel like they have no control over their children playing online games. In addition, more than half (51%) worry about their safety when it comes to gaming online.
The online gaming sector is continuing to grow at a rapid pace, yet despite this surge in popularity, the community remains unfamiliar to many parents. Nearly a quarter (24%) are unaware of the online security risks for their child when it comes to online gaming, whether they are playing with their friends or within a virtual world.
This ignorance can be dangerous, particularly when a quarter of parents (25%) know their children who game have disclosed personal information while playing online against other players; a third (34%) have spoken to someone they don’t know; and more than a quarter (28%) have developed friendships within the online gaming community.
Additionally, 16% of parents are aware online gaming has been used as a platform for their child to be bullied or verbally abused. This could be even higher in reality as youngsters do not necessarily always share their online experiences with their parents.
Detective Superintendent Geraint Jones said,
"As parents, it’s impossible to know what your children are doing all of the time, particularly when it comes to online gaming where there is a level of obliviousness about the complex digital world kids are entering. In the same way you would warn your kids about the risks of riding a bike or crossing a road, it’s important to educate your children to the security dangers early on so you can feel comfortable knowing they are playing safely, and your children know when to alert someone to anything suspicious. Unfortunately, some people playing these games are not who they say they are but by working together, we can stop these online criminals."
Top tips for safe online gaming:
- Have an open and honest conversation with your kids about their online gaming and the risks involved
- Tell your kids never to reveal private information like their real name, email address, home address, family members or financial details
- Explain that not everybody is who they seem or claim to be, and their motives may be suspicious
- Tell them not to respond to bullying or other abuse, and to tell you straight away if they are experiencing this
- Join in with your kids gaming from time to time. This will give you an idea of the games they’re playing and who they connect with
- Set and monitor limits for the amount of daily or weekly time your kids spend online gaming
- Check age ratings of games to ensure your kids aren’t accessing inappropriate content
- Never give your child your payment card details as extras can be very costly
If you think you have been a victim of fraud you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk. For further advice on how to stay safe online go to www.GetSafeOnline.org