Gaming devices

Children and young people love playing games. In fact, it is often through games that children first start to use technology. According to Ofcom, 41% of young people aged between 5-15 have a games console in their room. 

Handheld Games: Handheld games are played on small consoles. Some of the popular handheld consoles are the Nintendo DSi, 3DS, Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) and the PS Vita. These devices can access the internet wirelessly, and allow for playing games with others online.

Consoles: These devices, like the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Wii and WiiU, are designed to work with a TV. Consoles like these are capable of connecting to the internet via a home internet connection just like other computers. This allows users to download games or 'expansions' to existing games as well as playing online, although a subscription may be required for this. All of the three main manufacturers (Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft) include parental control functions in their consoles that are linked to age ratings systems.

From sport related games to mission based games and quests inspiring users to complete challenges, interactive games cater for a wide range of interests, and can enable users to link up and play together.

Games can provide a fun and social form of entertainment often encouraging teamwork and cooperation when played with others. Just like offline games, they can have educational benefits, helping to develop skills and understanding.

Today's games consoles have in-built wireless so they can connect to your home internet or other wifi hotspots. This enables a wide range of online functions, such as playing with or against people online (in a multi-player game), viewing films and TV, storing photos and music, browsing the web and chatting to friends.

Internet safety advice is directly applicable to gaming devices because risks of ContentContactConduct and Commercialism also apply: 

  • Content: age-inappropriate material can be available to children in games and through online services Open or Close

    Some games might not be suitable for your child's age - they may contain violent or sexually-explicit content. The quality of graphics in many games is very high, so the games can appear very realistic. Many devices allow users to browse the internet, and watch films and TV, and some of the content available is not appropriate for children. 

  • Contact: potential contact from someone who may wish to bully or abuse them Open or Close

    Many games allow gamers to play against people online, potentially from all around the world. While gaming you can communicate with people by text, voice or video chat. This might mean your child is exposed to offensive or aggressive language from other players. Bullying can also happen, which is known as 'griefing' in games, when players single out others specifically to make their gaming experience less enjoyable. Young people can also make themselves vulnerable to contact by those with a sexual interest in children if they give out their personal details.

  • Conduct: children may be at risk because of their own and others’ behaviour Open or Close

    Specific conduct risks for gamers include excessive use to the detriment of other aspects of their lives. This is sometimes referred to as 'addiction'. Gamers also need to think about their own behaviour and attitude towards other players, as well as the importance of not sharing any personal information.

  • Commercialism: young people can be unaware of hidden costs and advertising Open or Close

    There have been cases where children and young people have got into difficulty by inadvertently running up bills when playing games online. Some young people may also not be aware of advertising in games, for example, within the game there might be a billboard advertising a real-life product, or the whole game might be designed to promote particular products or brands.