Whether you play games online on internet sites, through a games console or on your mobile phone/tablet, there is lots of fun to be had. It is important to know what the risks are and how to keep yourself safe though. If you play any kind of games online, you should think about the following things.
- Some games can contain content that may not be appropriate or may be upsetting.
- Games that allow you to talk to other people might result in people bullying or trying to get you to do things that you don’t want to do.
- You can get addicted to games and this can change how you think, feel and behave.
There’s more information on all of these below.
Games will usually have an age rating attached to them – as annoying as these can be, they have been worked out to make sure that the content of the games and the things that you’ll see are appropriate and shouldn’t cause you distress. Some games can include violence, offensive language, sexual references or horror scenes for example.
You should always check the age rating of any game before deciding to play it to avoid getting caught out with something that you’re not prepared for. As well as the age rating, games should also come with a warning if it contains violence, sexual references or offensive language.
Interacting with others online
One of the best things about online games is that they allow you to play with other people without them being there with you. When this is with friends and people you know, it isn’t generally a problem however when you play games with people you don’t know, there can be risks to think about.
Some people playing games online may be adults pretending to be children so that they can pressure you into doing things that you don’t want to do or wouldn’t normally do. These can be hard to spot as you can’t see the person in most cases so they rely on you trusting what they tell you. In many cases, they will try and become your friend and gain your trust before gradually trying to get you to do things like sending them sexual photos of yourself or giving them your details so that they can meet you. Sometimes, they can even turn on you and make threats to try and intimidate you. You should immediately block anyone who you do not know who is pressuring you into doing anything that you don’t want to do and you should report this to an adult straight away.
Online games can also be an easy place for someone to bully you as they can feel protected due to you not knowing who or where they are. If someone is bullying you online, you should block them straight away. More advice on how to deal with online bullying is available on our cyberbullying page.
The best advice is not to play any online games with people that you do not know.
It might sound like an odd thing to say but it is possible to become addicted to online games. Like any kind of addiction, online gaming addiction can affect your physical and mental health so it’s important to recognise when you might be addicted by looking out for the following signs:
- Regularly turning down time with your friends and family in order to keep playing games online.
- Finding it hard to stop thinking about playing games online.
- Not being able to stop playing games online even when you need to eat or sleep for example.
- Not wanting to take part in activities that you used to enjoy so that you can spend more time gaming.
- Having problems at home or in school because of your online gaming.
If you are worried that you might be addicted to online gaming and you feel unable to cut down the time you spend gaming, you should speak to an adult who might suggest getting support from a doctor or counsellor.
More information on where to get help can be found on our sources of support page.
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