How do I talk to children and young people about Online Gaming?
As a nation we’re notoriously proud of the multiple sporting events that sweep across the country continuously. As a teacher you’ve no doubt been fed the latest football or rugby gossip, formula 1 results, cyclist chatter and Wimbledon banter from the young people around you, but have you ever considered the conversation youngsters might be having with others ‘on the pitch’ in their gaming community online? 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. What’s more, as a fast paced industry, you can guarantee that games will continue to become more immersive and graphic in nature. So, with this in mind it’s always a good time to talk your school community. 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 and updates on the latest games and apps
Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) – Explains what the age ratings on games
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org