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Safer Internet Centre

Do you have a cyberbullying or digital safety concern?

helpline@saferinternet.org.uk 0844 381 4772

Gaming – Advice for Professionals

World Cup Fever is upon us and you’ve no doubt been fed the latest football gossip from the young people in your classroom, but have you ever considered the conversation they might be having with others ‘on the pitch’ in their FIFA gaming community? We’re hearing more and more that online games are where young people are spending lots of their time, interacting with others who may or may not be their friend’s offline. So, with your comedy sized country flag, vuvuzela and perhaps even some football choruses at the ready, now would be a good time to talk to your parents and carers about gaming. Here are six pointers for starters: 

  • Chat to parents and carers about the games their children are using. Is there a parental control or child safety mode that might make these safer? What about the age rating? Is it appropriate for their child? If not are there other games you could recommend?
  • How long is too long? Remind parents that they are just that, parents! Parenting skills aren’t exclusive to offline activities; research shows that engaging with mobile devices, such as games consoles, before bedtime interferes with sleep. We all know how much lack of sleep can affect us so don’t be afraid to empower parents to take back control and say ‘it’s time to turn that off now’.
  • If there seems to be an issue across a certain age group you’re working with, maybe a letter home or quick meeting before a school parents evening could help address any concerns.
  • Remind parents and carers about resources already out there to help. Here are some really good ones:
    • UK Safer Internet’s Parents Guide to Technology – Highlights the safety tools available on gaming and mobile devices, empowering parents to support their children to use these technologies safely and responsibly.
    • Ask about Games – Information about safe gaming including setting parental controls on different games consoles.
    • Common Sense Media – Reviews, age recommendations and updates on the latest games and apps
    • Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) – Explains what the age ratings on games mean.
    • Online Gaming Guidance for parents from Internet Matters
    • Increase staff awareness of popular games. Perhaps staff could review games children they work with use, sharing their thoughts at the beginning of a weekly catch up (much like a book club style meeting). This would give staff the opportunity to discuss together how they might address any concerns.
    • Think about introducing a popular game into your work with young people, for example there are lots of great examples of Minecraft being used in the classroom. If it’s something children choose to use in their own time they’d probably love the chance to use it elsewhere too.

So there you have it, some sure-fire ways to samba your way to success all in the pursuit of keeping children and young people safer when gaming online. Don’t forget, if you work with children and young people and need further support with resolving an issue involving gaming or apps, you can ring our helpline on 0844 381 4772 or drop us an email: helpline@saferinternet.org.uk