Parents' Guide for Safe Online Gaming For Kids

Parents' Guide for Safe Online Gaming For Kids

Increasingly, video games have progressed towards an online multiplayer business model where players can chat and connect with other players. Games like StarCraft, World of Warcraft, PUBG, and Fortnite are completely online, while both single-player and multiplayer modes are provided by others like Minecraft and Call of Duty.

It's important to understand that online experiences are usually not considered by the ESRB classification system for assessing age and content ratings for video games. So, while with its fun graphics and cartoon art style, a video game-like Fortnite might seem child-friendly on the surface, adult players can say whatever they want to in the voice chat of the game.

Controversies about video games can be incredibly complicated. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) is a cooperative online fighting video game that provides in-game microtransactions where real money can be bought for virtual in-game products. CS: GO offers "skins," in particular, or spray-painted designs to decorate the arms or character of a player. It is estimated that some skins cost upwards of a thousand dollars.

Skins may also be shared between accounts. This has led to the development of websites designed to allow players to bet the value of their skins against the skins of other users. Trading platforms such as these recruit famous YouTube celebrities to also promote the service to millions of viewers.

Players bet and win skins on these platforms based on random chances and betting on live matches. While this setup is basically gambling, by not including real money, but rather virtual objects that can be exchanged for money, trading skins manages to dodge the legal definition of gambling. Nonetheless, the makers of the game have been hit with class-action litigation over the risk of gambling on these platforms by underage players.

In 2016, when successful Counter Strike YouTubers TmarTn and Syndicate, who were famous for producing videos of them playing on these types of websites, were caught manipulating bets on a website they owned, there was also a big scandal. The two players will bet in these videos and show the players how much they won. They never, however, disclosed to their audience that on a website they owned, they were gambling. All their winnings were staged, manipulating, and enticing their millions of fans, many of whom were underage, to gamble.

A related new trend is an emergence of "loot boxes." In some games, players can buy or win a virtual crate that gives the player a randomized collection of additional virtual items that can be used in-game when opened. It has been claimed that loot boxes are gambling in disguise thanks to the randomization aspect.

In fact, against loot boxes, the Belgian government ruled, calling them a form of gambling. Owing to how profitable they are, big companies continue to push loot boxes. In the video game industry, for consumers who buy a disproportionate amount of loot boxes, major corporations have also coined the word "whales".

You may have heard of loot boxes with various names. For example, the video game Rainbow Six: Siege refers to them as "Alpha Packs." The above screenshot shows Overwatch's seasonal "loot box".

Generally, cell phone games contain microtransactions. Any type of transaction that takes place in a game involves these transactions. Usually, the bill whatever credit card is attached to your account in the App Store or Google Play Store. A few examples of free-to-play games that include excessive microtransactions are Player Unknown's Battlegrounds, Pokemon Go, and Roblox.

Microtransactions need to be identified to parents. They may be addictive to your kids, and your child may rack up a large bill on your credit card in extreme cases.

For most children and adolescents, the Internet has had a positive effect on their lives. However, your duty as a parent is to maintain a healthy balance between the use of the Internet and the online privacy and data protection of your children. Speak to them thoroughly about social media and the consumption of content, and be ready to step in if problems occur.

Be an involved listener, inform them about the risks of particular content, and make sure they understand that it can have implications for their online acts. Take the time to recognize the websites and programs that your kids also use the most. It is integral to thriving in an increasingly Internet-centered world to teach them how to communicate with others online.

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