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Who’s Gaming You? Get the Facts

Instead of going head-to-head with your friends after school, you can now take on literally anyone in the world, in real-time.  Next-generation consoles such as Xbox360™, PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™), and Nintendo’s Wii™ give you the chance to take your game global.  You can chat directly with the competition and in some cases you can speak directly to them using voice controls.  But do you really know who you’re playing against?

As interactive gaming becomes more popular and younger gamers begin to use the games, online sexual predators will begin to converge and try to track them there.  That’s because game-chat is the same as traditional online chatting, allowing anonymous strangers to say just about anything they want to whoever will listen.   What starts as a seemingly innocent conversation about the game can quickly turn into something else.  These predators try to form relationships, and might start asking for personal information like a password or email address.  Don’t fall into this trap!  

Before you get gaming, be aware of the safety tools built into the game or gaming system so you are armed and ready to protect yourself.  Xbox 360™, for example, allows you to block people from contacting you or to “mute” those you don’t want to hear from. 

But you have to think about more than just your personal safety, you also have to look out for cyber criminals.  Although some games are free, others charge you a fee.  This means you are paying to play, and it’s easy to get in over your head.  Look out for people trying to sell you something or a third party trying to charge you for extra game amenities.

Remember these tips while gaming online:

  • Don’t give anyone any personal information, especially your password. You don’t owe anyone anything!
  • If someone is making you uncomfortable, block them!
  • If you think you are being targeted by a cyber criminal or potential predator, report them to the services complaint center or contact the CyberTipline
  • Don’t confuse the real world and the virtual world
  • Monitor the amount of time you spend playing online games, if someone has mentioned to you that it could be a problem, be sure you take that to heart.
  • Don’t let gaming interfere with your real life – real friends are what matter
  • Enjoy the challenges of gaming, feel successful – just be sure you’re in charge!

For Parents:

  • Be sure the games are age appropriate
  • Set privacy controls together
  • If you’re worried about amount of time your children are playing, you can set time controls
  • Pay attention to the content and/or violence in the games and be sure your children understand the difference between the virtual world and the real world
  • Play online games with your children to see what value they find in gaming
  • And most importantly – set good examples for how you use online gaming for entertainment

Check out these websites for more tips on how to get the most out of gaming online: 

Helium – Video Games Tips & Tricks Safety Site Online Gaming Safety