Kids love to play video games and the internet has an unlimited supply of entertainment for them. It’s pretty easy to imagine that internet gaming can quickly got out of hand without strict parental controls. It takes time for children to develop self control, so without limits, they would want to spend every waking moment playing games if possible. Parents need to take a pro-active approach to their kids and internet gaming. Here are just 10 of the rules parents should have for internet gaming.
- Homework and chores first – It’s very easy for kids and adults alike to get caught up in a game and neglect everything else. Parents should have strict rules that there will be no video games until after the homework and chores are done. This gives kids the incentive to do their homework and chores, and then collect their reward.
- Time limits – Parents should establish realistic limits for the amount of time their kids spend playing internet games each day. Some of these games can go on for hours and can be very addictive. A good rule would be to give equal time to playing outdoors or engaging in other activities.
- Get parental approval – It’s very important that parents screen all internet games before allowing their kids to play them. There needs to be strict enforcement of this rule with strong consequences if they’re caught violating it.
- No violent or adult content – Kids need to know that violent and explicit content in internet games will not be tolerated. The pleas of “Ah gee, it’s just a game,” must be ignored. Some of these games are very graphic and tend to desensitize kids to these disturbing images.
- No downloading without permission – Many of these internet games come with computer viruses, so don’t allow kids to download anything without permission. This way you can make sure what games are downloaded and that they come from reputable sites.
- Don’t give out passwords – It’s crucial that kids know not to ever give out passwords on the internet. Teach them how to come up with secure passwords and what the consequences are of they fall into the wrong hands.
- Safe gamer names – Help your kids to come up with safe gamer names that protect their privacy. Use generic terms that don’t indicate age, race, gender or location. Online predators will use the tiniest bit of information to entrap unsuspecting children.
- Report bullying – Parents should make sure their kids are aware of online bullying and that it must be reported. Also make sure your kids are not the ones doing the bullying. Some people like to use the anonymity of the internet as license to harass and taunt other players.
- Watch for predators – Be sure your kids know about online predators and what to watch for. Younger children should only be allowed to play with other gamers approved by their parents and never allow them to meet online friends unsupervised.
- Prohibit gambling – Make sure kids know that online gambling is illegal for kids and is strictly prohibited. This could be extremely dangerous and expensive, especially if they get a hold of your credit card.
When parents work together with their kids they can establish guidelines to protect both themselves and the computer. Parents should play the games with their children to help them learn the rules and teach them how to report abuse or inappropriate behavior. Online games can be both fun and educational, so by having firm rules in place, the internet can be a source of great entertainment for the whole family.