What is Gaming?
Gaming has one of the biggest and most profitable businesses in the world, and it has been for some time. “Video games” are now available in many different forms, from the more traditional arcade games to Xbox, Sony Playstation and Nintendo Switch, to mobile apps and online games.
Should I Be Worried About My Kids Playing Games?
Studies have demonstrated that gaming can have a positive impact on children's lives. It can be a source to disconnect from reality, an educational tool, as well as a little bit of fun. However, research also shows that gaming can have negative side effects, due to exposure of violence, adult material, and sexual content.
Many games being played are inappropriate for the age of a child playing them, and/or contain distasteful, sexist or racist content. Some games depict rape, exploitation, killing, vulgar language and manipulation. Furthermore, many games have multi-player functionality, where you can connect, compete against and complete missions with strangers across the globe. This open exposure can have a direct impact on the behaviour of your children.
What are the Most Popular Online Games?
Like most things on the internet, new online games appear daily. It can be super challenging to keep on top of the games your child is playing, but there are some common titles you’ll likely see on their screens at some time in the growing up journey. Some of the most popular online games include Fortnite, Apex, League of Legends and Minecraft.
Some of these games have a monthly reach of 50 million active players. These users come from all corners of the globe and are across a range of age groups. Online games are available 24/7 for players to interact with one another freely, from different countries. It’s important you and your family understand the risks this exposure and new communication channel can lead to.
In this article, we will explain how to manage the parental controls on one of the most popular long-standing online games, Minecraft. First launched in 2011, the game boasts over 90 million players. The game itself allows you to play and build your own adventures, offering players a blank sheet and open-ended game, allowing and encouraging them to do whatever they wish in the game.
What is Minecraft?
The game contains different modes including creative and survival mode. Both allow for different methods and strategies of playing the game, where you can interact with other players and make friends with people online.
The game can be played on the majority of devices, from smartphones and iPads to Xbox.. Since Minecraft was taken over from Microsoft, they have recognised the game attracts a large teenage audience base. As a result, they have implemented a number of parental controls to ensure parents feel they have some say in who their child can interact with whilst in the game.
How Do You Sign In?
In order to play Minecraft, a player needs to have an Xbox Live account. Therefore, to manage the parental controls, you will also need to create your own account to manage the settings.
How to Find Parental Controls
Log in to your family Xbox Live account or create one using a Microsoft or Hotmail account. This can be done from any device, such as your phone or laptop.
Once you have logged in, visit Controls and Privacy Settings. Here, if you your children connected to Microsoft Family, you will be able to see their Game Avatars. You’ll also see the three different settings to choose from. You can choose to restrict just one or all three of the control settings.
1. Multiplayer Game Settings > by controlling this feature, your adolescent will not be able to join in any multiplayer game. This includes local worlds and servers. For example, if you created a 'local world' with your child, this function would prevent them from playing a multi-player game with you.
2. Communicating with Voice, Text or Invitation Settings > if you opt for this setting, your child will be able to participate in multiplayer games with other online players, but not able to use the chat functions, see messages sent by other players or be invited to games by other players.
3. Accounts for Under 13s > you might think that most children under 13 don't play these games however, it couldn't be further from reality. If you use the settings, your child will need permission to create their own account with Xbox Live. You can actually add their account under the 'family member settings' rather than your child creating their own account. In addition, you don't need to worry about controls as, for under 13s, the communication settings are automatically blocked.
Security in the Game
Whilst playing Minecraft, there are additional settings that can be used to protect your teenagers in the online gaming world. You’ll need to engage and chat with your child about these, and editing them is something only the player can do.
From the pause menu, you can add, mute, block or report other players. Also, using the pause setting function, your children can invite other players to help them with a mission but can't directly interact with them.
These have dramatically developed since the game initially launched. Now, any personal details including phone numbers and email address are erased so these cannot be shared with any other players. In addition, the chat function puts extra precautions in place for players of a certain age. This ensures they aren't exposed to any inappropriate content. Finally, the game no longer includes private messaging for multiplayer games. The chat function can be used as a group chat for all players involved in any game however, they cannot directly speak to one another one-on-one.
What About Other Games?
The control settings across games vary dramatically. However, most games have controls implemented for younger players and most have age restrictions for those wanting to sign up. If someone is under 13, they usually need parent permission in order to set up an account.
In addition, the chat functions are filtered for under 16s to protect children against any age-inappropriate messages or images. If you are worried about a new game, look into the privacy and control settings available for parents. You can choose the options which you think will benefit you and your family the most.
Finally, speak with your teenager about online gaming. Explain your point of view, how comfortable you feel with them playing online games and highlight the potential dangers of gaming. Ask them about their behaviors and gaming experiences. Listen. If you think their playing is becoming too excessive, talk to them about restricting the times they are allowed to play.