There is a ton of information out there about the dangers of online gaming. This is information about the real significant dangers. The dangers that could actually cause harm to your child. We hear a lot about internet trolls, online bullying and predators posing as young children to groom them. But if you don’t know a lot about them, there is some great actual advice about keeping your children safe online on the following sites ;
The NSPCC website.
Think You Know website.
There are other things to worry about when your child plays online. It’s not all about predators and bullying. I’m not belittling those worries, because they are genuine things to worry about. But I want to talk to you about the things nobody else tells you about.
In a nutshell, your child can play their favourite games online against other people. Usually this is done via a gaming console, laptop, PC, tablet, iPad or phone. There might be other ways, I’m hardly a gaming expert. My knowledge of gaming online is limited to “Why?”.
I genuinely don’t really understand why this is something people want to do, but I guess it has either a social or competitive aspect to it.
Dangers of online gaming
1. Screaming at your kids
If your child is busy playing online with their friends, be VERY careful how you talk to them. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been asking or begging them for hours to bring their dirty washing downstairs. Whatever you do, don’t lose your shit and scream at them.
Because your voice is being transmitted to somebody else’s house.
The other players may have headphones in, so only your child’s friend(s) hear you. But they may also not have headphones in, which means that anybody in their house can also hear you losing your shit.
This makes it very difficult to make eye contact with these parents on the school run or when you bump into them at Tesco. Believe me.
2. Screaming at your partner
I’ve been in relationships, I know how irritating the other half can be. And I also know that rows and arguments can be part and parcel of a healthy relationship. But, for the reasons in number 1, don’t broadcast your rows through your child’s games console.
This can lead to embarrassment (yours) and awkwardness (your child’s) when you bump into the gamer friend or their family.
Also, if this happens frequently it could lead to you getting a reputation for the parents who always row.
3. Slagging people off
Everybody does it to some extent. Anyone who says they don’t is either a liar or a saint. It’s a normal part of life and relationships. But if you’re going to bitch and moan about someone, make sure your child isn’t playing online against them or a member of their family.
Here’s a scenario with 5 people. A, B and C are all adults. d and e are children.
d and e were playing online together one day. A and B were in the same room, really slagging off C’s terrible taste in men. The conversation moved on to A and B slagging off C’s hair, her annoying voice and how she drinks too much wine. d turns to parent A and says “you know I’m playing online with e? And he can hear everything you’re saying?”. A and B remember that e is the child of C. And if e can hear everything they’ve been saying, and tells his Mum, they’re in trouble.
And they were. Because C had heard the lot. The next day at school, C very angrily approached A and B and really laid into the pair of them. In front of a playground full of other parents.
Mega embarrassing for everyone.
But not me because this is just a scenario.
4. Hearing extra voices
The very first morning after my youngest 2 got their gaming console, I was lying in bed dozing. It was about 8am on a Sunday, and I was warm, cosy and not ready to get out of bed just yet.
All of a sudden I heard all 3 of my nephews really really loud.
I jumped out of bed, convinced something terrible had happened which had necessitated such an early arrival at my house and ran downstairs.
What did I find?
My girls, online gaming with their cousins. The TV accidentally turned up too loud, with the girls trying to get the batteries back in the remote to turn it down again.
Panic over, heart rate returned to normal, but I wasn’t feeling warm and cosy anymore.
5. Age confusion
There is a very real chance that your child might be talking to someone online that makes you think they’re talking to an actual grown man. Before you flip out and imagine all kinds of horrible scenarios, just ask them who it is. If you have a child around 12-14 years old, it could just as easily be another child from their class whose voice has broken as it could be a grown man.
One of my nephew’s friends has a very deep voice, and the first time I heard Emily playing Fortnite with them both online I almost flipped. But there was a perfectly innocent explanation. It was just a 12 year old boy whose voice had broken.
Similarly, a grown woman can sound like a preteen boy, or vice versa.
Not everything is as bad as you think it can be, but there’s no harm in being cautious. So always check.
6. Your child’s swearing vocabulary might increase
I know. This is a bit random. But I have a large child that plays a lot of FIFA online. His language can often be pretty colourful at times, but I was very surprised to hear him shouting Danish swear words. Especially as I know he can’t speak a word in Danish.
Confused, I went into his room, where he told me that he had been Googling swear words in Danish because whoever he was playing against didn’t understand English.
Honestly, I didn’t know whether to be proud of his ingenuity, or shocked that swearing matters to him so much that he felt he had to research how to do it in other languages. Just to continue playing his game how he wanted to! He never put that much effort into doing his homework.
7. Internet probs
I’ve mentioned in another post about the need for a fast reliable internet connection. And this is why.
When you have a few children into online gaming, this is beyond important. Well, if you ever want to be able to access the internet yourself that it. No matter what your internet company tells you that about their service being capable of reaching blah blah download speeds throughout the whole house and never losing connection. You will have problems. For the life of me I’ll never understand why the consoles seem to get priority over me trying to watch Netflix in the kitchen when I’m cooking dinner. It’s just rude.
8. Your children will talk to you like you’re stupid
You might be lucky enough to have children who talk to you nicely and not like you’re stupid.
I do not.
Apparently, during an online game, you can’t ;
- Pause the game
- Use the toilet
- Do homework
- Tell your parents what you want for dinner
- Eat the dinner
- Have a drink
- Look up from the screen
- Hear what anybody else is saying
- Leave the game
- Do anything other than game
9. New words
With online gaming, comes a whole host of words you might never have heard of before.
This article has a good list of gaming terms. The ones I hear the most often are;
- Noob – newbie to gaming / someone playing a bit crap
- Leet – elite
- Oof – someone’s died
- Owned – someone outplayed you
- Easter Egg – hidden feature in the game
- Troll – someone being annoying/trying to provoke others just for the sake of it
- Yeet – excited/happy/overjoyed
They don’t mean anything bad, but they will get on your tits when you hear them over and over!
Online gaming recap
So, there you go. There’s the things I think all parents should be aware of when it comes to online gaming.
Basically, keep your mouth shut, try not to slag anyone off, try not to have too many arguments, try not to say anything embarrassing, be prepared for your internet connection to always be shit and be ready to hear random voices/languages randomly in your house, and you’re golden.