Are your children talking about Steam? And asking you to allow them to buy and download games from this gaming platform? Guest poster Will.B (14yrs) helps parents providing all the information you need to understand this very popular online gaming store.
What is Steam?
Steam is an online game platform, where you may purchase games and download them off the Internet. They are then stored in your Steam profile and you can download them onto any computer. One of Steam’s most popular features is its trading system, which allows you to exchange items in your ‘inventory’ (Items that you own) for items in someone else’s ‘inventory’ (Items they own). These items include games, trading cards and in-game items.
What sort of games can you buy on Steam?
Steam offers a variety of different games, with a large variation in price. Many of the games on Steam are child friendly, with little to no violence, but there are also many violent and mature games. In order to choose the right game for your child, always make sure to check the rating. On steam games are rated by age, e.g. ‘pegi 16’ means 16 or over.
Are there any parental controls for Steam?
Steam offers a content restriction setting called ‘Family View’ (Directions can be found on the image below). This prevents anyone from purchasing a game outright, and instead makes them enter a pin before completing the process. This is very useful if you want to restrict your children from graphic content. There is also an age restriction on many games, meaning you have to enter your age before continuing, and if you are too young, you cannot access the game. However, this is easily bypassed by lying about your age, so it is not the recommended use of content restriction.
Privacy – Blocking
Go to you View profile – Edit Profile – My Privacy Settings, select level of privacy to Private or Only Friends. Block messages by hovering over senders profile and selecting “Block All Communication” and remove from friends list. Set everything to Private if you are getting annoying friend requests/messages. Go to https://steamcommunity.com/chat/ to change your chat notification settings if needed. If constantly harassed you may have to change your Steam Nick Name through “Edit Profile”
(To find the family view setting, go to: (name)’s Account – Account Settings – Family View – Manage Family View)
How do you pay for games on Steam?
Steam implements a useful and convenient method of paying for games, where you can either pay directly for a game, or store money on your account using your ‘steam wallet’. The ‘steam wallet’ is very similar to a bank account (without interest), where your money is held until you purchase something with it. There are a variety of different ways in which you can purchase games on Steam or inject money into your Steam wallet, including: PayPal, Webmoney, VISA, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and JCB (directions For payment Below). Additionally, a much safer method of payment is buying a ‘Steam gift card’ from a gaming retail store. There are $20, $50, and $100 cards, and they give you a code that you enter into the ‘Redeem a Steam Wallet Code’ section of Steam (Directions below). This will then inject that money into your ‘steam wallet’.
(To find the ‘Redeem a Steam Wallet Code’ section of Steam, go to http://www.steampowered.com/wallet and sign in if necessary. Enter your code and press continue.)
(To find the ‘Add funds’ section of Steam, go to: (name)’s Account – Account Settings – Your Steam Account – Add funds to your Steam Wallet)
When it comes to Steam, there are very few dangers through purchasing games, as all of the games displayed are authenticated by Steam (personnel). However, the trading system in Steam can be easily exploited, as you can be scammed easily or receive an unfair deal. This can be easily avoided by not partaking in trading or by making sure that you are getting a good deal. More information on trading scams here.
Are there any games with viruses?
It is extremely unlikely that Steam will give you a virus, as I have stated before, that the Steam personnel authenticate all games. This means that they have been monitored and tested to make sure that there are no viruses being harbored within the game itself. It is not guaranteed, however, that a game will not have a virus. Always make sure that you have anti-virus software to prevent this.
Mods (Modifications, modding)
Steam has an immense community based around modding (additional game content that is used to enhance the gaming experience), and as such, there are many dangers that come within this field. No matter what mod you download, there is always a risk of it being a virus. Again, anti-virus software can help to prevent this.
Steam allows you to store games on a cloud-based system, where you can download them at any time on any computer. This puts an end to the issue of buying new games due to buying a new computer or losing the CD. It is also very flexible in payment choice and allows for great community interaction. There are also many security measures that can be set in place to restrict content and unwanted purchases, as well as to block viruses.
Have you had any concerns with your children using Steam? Let us know in the comments.