7 common sense tips for staying safe while gaming online

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The popularity of online video gaming has risen to astronomical levels in recent years, and for good reason. There are many benefits to this form of entertainment that can’t be ignored. Besides being entertaining, so many of the games available build concentration, problem-solving and memory skills. With all the benefits, it’s easy to forget that dangers are lurking in the online gaming shadows. It’s important that gamers educate themselves on these dangers and how to avoid them. Follow these simple guidelines, and you are sure to have an entertaining and safe experience each time you pick up the controls.

Download with caution

Most online gaming experiences now use Kubernetes, or k8s. Kubernetes are open-source software that allows applications to scale and manage their containerized cloud-native applications. This has revolutionized the gaming world, but it is not without its risks. There are security tradeoffs in order for applications to utilize all of their growth and experience potential. One major risk is that of malware installation. Be very cautious when seeking out cheats and mods and only download from a trusted source in your app store. If you download them from any other source, you open yourself up for virus installation, which can then give hackers access to your personal data.

Age ratings

ESRB age rating categories for video games
ESRB age rating categories for video games.

Age ratings are placed on games for multiple reasons. One of those reasons is to protect younger gamers from accessing content that is too mature for them. Many top games contain graphic violence, profanity, and sexuality that may be disturbing or harmful to younger players. The ratings are there for your protection. Be careful when tempted to play a game above your age level.

Another reason for age ratings is to group gamers of the same maturity level. There is a lot of interaction between gamers during online play. If a gamer plays above their maturity level, they open themselves up for communication with older teenagers or adults they do not know.  The risks with this behavior are high. Stay safe and play games with people your own age.

Block and report

There are many security measures built into gaming platforms to guard against inappropriate behavior from other gamers. Be aware of the block and report options if you run across a player who is crossing the line. If another person makes you feel uncomfortable or at risk at any time, do not hesitate to block their access to you and report them to the gaming service. You will be protecting other gamers in the process.

Choose a safe username

It is vital to protect your personal information when you interact with other gamers. Something as simple as a careless username can make you vulnerable to predators online. When choosing a username, never use your name or the name of family members, your age or any of your contact information. Putting information about yourself in a username can give predators just enough information to decide to approach you or contact you out in the real world. Play it safe and make usernames completely anonymous.

Share carefully

Besides usernames, there are many opportunities to share too much information with other gamers online. The anonymity of the internet allows people of all genders and ages to appear to be whatever they want. So while you may think you are chatting it up with a 13-year-old girl from the neighboring junior high, you could actually be having a conversation with a 42-year-old man with a prison record. Even if you feel safe with the other gamers, avoid sharing personal information about yourself that could put you at risk. Seemingly innocent facts like the church or school you attend or what you plan on doing next Friday night could be weapons in the wrong hands.

Take breaks often

man woman couple gaming fighting over controller
Remember to take a break while gaming.

While gaming is a fantastic form of entertainment, it carries with it physical and mental risks. Playing online games for too long while sacrificing physical activity is never good for your body. Step away for a time and go for a walk or play a game of hoops with your friends. Carpal tunnel is another risk of repetitive actions during online gaming. Do your body a favor and set down the controllers for a while.

With online gaming comes the risk of addiction. If you find yourself unable to step away from a game after a long period of time or are missing important personal responsibilities because you do not want to leave a game, you might be struggling with addiction. Limiting your gaming to certain time blocks in the day will help you maintain a balance in your life. It is recommended that the average teenager and adult consume two hours of screen time a day. Keep this guideline in mind as you carve out time for your gaming.

Stomp out cyberbullying

Bullying has been around since the beginning of time, but the way people go about it has changed with the times. Cyberbullying is defined as using electronic communication to intimidate or threaten someone, and it runs rampant in the online world. It can come in many forms, and young people often do not recognize it for what it is. Cyberbullying can feel worse than traditional bullying because it is tough to take back when something is written or shared online. This bullying can lead to feelings of sadness or fear and can ultimately lead to depression and anxiety.

If you feel you are being bullied, immediately step away from the game for a reset. Avoid rereading the comments, so they do not replay over and over in your mind. Though it is easier said than done, try not to take comments personally. Make sure to tell a trusted adult who has your back if the bullying gets worse or happens again.

Conclusion

Online gaming is the future of entertainment and is meant to be fun and enjoyable. Make sure it stays that way by taking these few steps to keep yourself safe. Once you’ve taken steps to be smart about online gaming, check out this article for tips to improve your gaming experience.

What do you think about these 7 common sense tips for staying safe while gaming online? Do you have any to add? Let us know on Twitter, MeWe, or any of the social media sites below.

Last Updated on June 6, 2021.

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