Over the past several decades, online gaming has evolved into one of the most popular entertainment industries in the world. However, with many advancements and improvements also comes new dangers. Online gaming now often includes multiplayer options that involve unique safety concerns. Features like video chatting, file sharing, and personal data sharing can make players more susceptible to cyber threats, cyberbullying or even malware attacks. With these threats in mind, it’s important to know how to stay safe while online gaming.
Online gaming dangers
Online gaming involves specific dangers, even ones that might be unexpected. While some games might be safe for children from a content standpoint, multiplayer chats or webcam access can open them up to risk. From educational games to adventure games, online gaming dangers include:
- Privacy problems
- Webcam hacking
- Hidden fees or scams
- Age-inappropriate content
Cyberbullying can be a risk for any online gamers, especially young adults and children. The anonymity of players and the use of avatars can be a fun way to create alter-egos or fictional versions of themselves, but it also comes with risks. Online gamers can use this anonymity to harass, bully and harm other players. Cyberbullying can happen either by direct message or in public chat channels.
When gaming online, it’s important to protect your privacy. Storing or using personal information on consoles, computers and other devices can put private data at risk. Using real names in online usernames or profiles can allow hackers and cybercriminals to easily gain access to personal information.
Many gaming devices and online games now include integrated video and microphone access. From laptops to tablets to smartphones, any device with a webcam may be at risk of hacking. Hackers can remotely control both webcams and microphones and exploit players.
Hidden fees and scams
Online gaming often includes hidden fees or other in-game costs that can add up. Young adults and children without supervision might overlook subscription fees and add-ons. One of the biggest concerns with online gaming purchases is that unsecured payment information could be obtained by hackers.
How to stay safe on online gaming
Luckily, while online gaming presents challenges and dangers, there are many solutions to ensure you or your child stay safe. Being aware of the dangers of online gaming is the first step to creating a safe online gaming experience. There are also specific steps you can take to secure your private information and protect against cyberbullying.
Block or report bullies
If your children enjoy online gaming, you should be aware of ways to prevent or stop cyberbullying. Before letting your child participate in online gaming, make sure they know safe digital behavior. Clicking on links from strangers or participating in bullying of other players is unsafe and likely violates the game’s terms of service. Some games allow you to block all direct messaging from other users and most games will allow you to block and report individuals engaging in cyberbullying.
Protect personal information
Avoid sharing personal information when online gaming to prevent hacking. When creating usernames, gamers should choose something that doesn’t include their first or last name or other personal information like birth dates. Create strong and unique passwords to avoid the risk of being hacked.
To help mitigate the risk of hackers controlling your device’s microphone or webcam, you can often install cybersecurity software that will check for malware, depending on your gaming device of choice. Ensuring that all webcams are set to “off” as their default and using physical camera covers are more ways to protect yourself from hackers.
Before you donate or sell old devices, remember to always delete all personal information first and reset the device. Having names, addresses or payment information on these devices can put you at risk.
Do your research
Adults should always research games before letting their child play to ensure the content is age-appropriate. Different types of game ratings can let you know the intended age range for an online game. For example, games rated “E” are typically suitable for all ages. To ensure your child doesn’t view inappropriate material, you can play the game with your child or on your own first to explore all aspects of the game beforehand.
When choosing which games to let your child play, you can also check to see if they include multiplayer options. Online games that allow playing with strangers and have chat functions may be better to avoid for young children.
Following online gaming safety protocols can help prevent everything from cyberbullying to stolen personal and financial information. Using these tips will help make online gaming a safer and more enjoyable experience for you or your children. To learn more about online gaming, explore the CenturyLink Gaming Hub for tips on improving internet speed for gaming and more.