I’ve been a gamer for over 25 years and am very proud of it. Video games have helped shape my life. My close circle of friends are gamers and most importantly, I met my wife because of video games. She too is an avid gamer. So, it was only natural when we started having children, that our children would be exposed to the wonderful world of video games!
Now as a family of gamers, and as our children grow older, we start to understand that we have a responsibility to guide and protect our children as they traverse the video gaming environment. We also have to find ways to make it all fun and entertaining. As much as we love our video games, we also know that the video game environment can at times be a tricky and ugly one to understand and navigate.
While this might come easy for my wife and I since we’ve been around video games a large part of our lives, we realize there are parents for which this isn’t the case. Many parents have children who love video games, yet they themselves may not know all they need to know to guide their children into safe gaming. Some words of advice to those parents: educate yourselves on today’s video gaming environment, for both your sake and for your children. But, fret not! While this may seem like a daunting task, there are tools and advice out there to do just that!
Activision, a video game publisher, previously hosted a Family Game Summit with the goal of showing how to better make video games a safe and entertaining family affair. The summit has focused on buying age appropriate games for kids, knowing the language of video games, and how to maintain control of accounts and identities. As parents, we need to understand there are many video game terms out there. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to safeguard your child. Below are a few video game terms and tips we learned from the Family Game Summit.
5 Video Game Terms & Tips to Help Parents Become More Savvy
- MMO: MMO stands for Mass Multiplayer Online. What this means is that there are many players playing at the same time in a particular game. These games tend to be a lot of fun. Hours can be lost as you play alongside many players. What parents need to be aware of is that your child may be playing with strangers, so it’s important to know the MMO game your child is playing. Spend some time watching your child playing and listen in on the game to hear what’s being said.
- Free to Play: Free to Play games are just what they sound like, they are games that are free to play. Everyone loves free things! What parents need to know is that although the games are free to play, gaining new levels, new items, or new characters might not be free. Parents, you would do best to set a credit limit, set up the parental controls, or even better, disable the instant buy function, if the game has one. Most importantly, NEVER give out the password.
- Profile: Almost every video game or video game system has player profiles. The profile holds information about the player. The information might include a player’s gender, location, age, phone number, zip code, etc. What parents need to know is what is on your child’s profile. Make sure there is no personally identifiable information, such as age, phone numbers, addresses, etc. Many profiles have settings which can toggle on or off what is displayed to the public.
- Friends List: The Friends List is a list of players which the user prefers to play with. Many times they are actual friends whom your child would mostly be playing with. What parents need to know is to be sure to know who is on your child’s Friend List. Monitor your child’s Friend List. If possible, password protect your child’s Friend List as well.
- Fun: What parents need to know is that while these tips and information is meant to be a safeguard for your child’s video game playing experience, it’s also very important to have fun! Be there with your child, play along with your child, and show some interest in your child’s video game playing. They will love every bit of it!
Making video games a family affair is one of the first steps to making your child’s video game playing experience a safe one. Knowledge is a key component and with the help of game developers such as Activision and other family-friendly websites, the information is readily available to any parent. Have fun playing video games as a family!
Christopher Channer, AKA Sil3ntX, is a father of 3, family gamer, and co-owner of Confident Gamers, a gaming news and video game reviews blog.
All photos © Melanie Edwards/modernmami™