Kids Playing With Adults Online?
I’m not sure if you have noticed but there are so many video games now that have online versions or are entirely online game play only, where gamers can play online with other gamers. You may not even realise that you have bought or signed up for one for your child.
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These types of video games are commonly known as massively multiplayer online games. (also called MMO and MMOG) They are described as a multiplayer video game which is capable of supporting hundreds or thousands of players simultaneously. These can be played on PC’s both windows and Mac, and on console devices including PSP, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS and Wii and the iPod and some smart phones. They can be:
- Racing games
- Role playing games
- Sports games
- Simulation games (like The Sims)
- First person shooter games
- Strategy games
- Creative building games like Minecraft that also have a game like elements like avoiding zombies etc…
- Virtual Worlds
- Mystery Games
What should you do if your child wants to play one of these games?
- Find out what age group the game is designer for, does your child fit that age group? (read their Terms Of Service, most have them)
- Find out if the game has in-game moderation.
- Find out if the game has reliable moderators that will actually help your child if they are upset. (some claim they do but they don’t follow up)
- Decide if your child has the maturity to handle an online game with other kids or adults.
- Decide if YOU have enough ability to supervise your child on the game.
- Decide if you have enough knowledge of the game or computing to be able to supervise efficiently.
- Find out if there is an offline version of the game as well as online play (this might be a better solution).
- Find out if there are parental controls for the game, and learn how to use them.
What games should you definitely NOT let your under 15 year old play.
Games where Adults can mix openly with children, where there is very little online moderation should be avoided by children under 15yrs. These games often have ratings of MA15+ and M, but some like Star Trek online are rated P.G. As a guideline if you are not up to date with gaming, stick to the suggested ratings and put off allowing your children to play online with others until they are old enough. M rated games vary in levels of violence and language, and you will have to judge how mature your child is, as to weather you allow them to play that game if under 15yrs.
You can’t use parental controls in adult online games. You can use parental controls on your computers and your console gaming devices, but these only limit the types of interaction and games your child uses. Some games have parental controls but they are not usually adult (M and MA15+) games. Some online games have child friendly areas, so that if children are registered as a minor they will be restricted to a child friendly area.
NOTE: Children under 15 are NOT allowed to buy MA15+ games, for a good reason, they are often online games with a fair amount of swearing and violence in them. Most Adults playing these games don’t like little kids playing with them anyway. The argument that “Everyone I know is playing it!” should not sway you.
Many parents are unaware when they buy a video game that some games come with the ability to play online with multiplayer, this goes for PC games and XBox and Playstation. Look on the back of the games its usually indicated, if you are in any doubt ask your Game shop salesman.
Its always a good idea when buying games to buy them from a proper gaming store rather than a unstaffed department store like Kmart, the folks that work in dedicated gaming stores like EB Games and JB HiFi really know their stuff and can give you good advice.
If you, as a parent, feel inadequate and are not prepared to be near your child and supervise their online game playing, I would strongly suggest you don’t allow your child under 15 yrs to play an online adult game. They definitely need your supervision!
Games like Club Penguin and Free Realms have good moderation where there is almost constant supervision, a child can get a suspension for just saying negative things to another child. Other games like Minecraft have the ability to have private platforms called sims set up, so that your child’s friends can play privately (this takes some expert help though)
If you are allowing your 15yr+ to play online with adults or other teens, keep a sharp ear out, and get involved..be sure your child never gives out their real name, or mentions where they live or where they go to school. Be sure to foster a relationship with your teen so that they are not afraid or embarrassed to come to you if they are ever uncomfortable or upset about anything that happens or is said in game. Be aware of any inappropriate talk, or behaviour. (Even with headphones on you can sometimes work out what is going on) And be sure you don’t allow your teen to play these online adult games in their room, keep all video games in a high traffic area where you can supervise without obviously “snoopervising”!
Keep in mind that kids can make “friends” on online games from all over the country or the world, and these friendships can be almost as real as their offline friends, so be sensitive to these friendships but be cautious! Your child should not be developing friendships with kids that are much older than they.
Online games can be a lot of fun, and its very interesting to meet people from other parts of the planet, but, as you would offline, hold your child’s hand and be there at all times! Ease your teen into discovering the online world slowly and carefully.
What Are Some Of The Online Games?
http://www.commonsensemedia.org has some great reviews on the suitability of games for children.
A List Of Some Of The Better Known Online Games:
- World Of Warcraft M
- Star Trek Online PG
- Star Wars Online M
- Final Fantasy M
- Habbo Hotel 13yrs+
- Second Life 16+ on main grid
- Club Penguin 10 – 20yrs only
- Evony only with parental supervision no age limit
- Free Realms PG
- RuneScape 13+
- Tanki Online PG
- Battlestar Galactica Online 16+
- Minecraft no limit
- Aces High no limit
- Age of Empires Online E (everyone)
- Dawn of Fantasy Teens Adolescents upward
- Call Of Duty MA15+
- Battlefield 3 MA15+
- Halo M and MA15+
- Eve Online 12 and over
- IMVU 13+
- Disney’s Toontown open no limit
- Hello Kitty Online 13yrs+
- Adventure Quest Worlds (restricted servers for under 13yrs)