16 November 2020
How to support your child with cyberbullying in games
Playing games online should be a fun activity for kids to stay entertained, connect with friends and learn new skills. But sometimes your child might come across other players online who are unkind and deliberately try to ruin the game for others.
Bullying that takes place online is called cyberbullying and can take place on most gaming platforms. It can be common in online multiplayer games that let you play with people you don’t know – sometimes hundreds at the same time. Multiplayer games like this are sometimes referred to by people in the gaming community as:
MMORPG - Massively multiplayer online role-playing game
MMORTS - Massively multiplayer online real-time strategy game
MMOG - Massively multiplayer online game
Parents and carers should be aware that these games are played in real-time and they open up more chances for your child to see or experience cyberbullying. You should always make sure to check the types of games your child is playing and whether they’re playing them with people they don’t know.
You may have also heard your child referring to upsetting behaviour from others within a game as ‘griefing’. A ‘griefer’ is a player on a multiplayer game who intentionally irritates or harasses other players within a game to make them lose or stop playing.
What form does cyberbullying take in online games?
- Sending upsetting messages to another player
- Interfering with another player’s game play
- Deliberately making someone lose a game
- Hacking someone’s account to destroy what they have built within the gaming world
- Stealing another player’s virtual currency
- Deliberate exclusion from games in order to upset or annoy
Show your child how to report, block and leave a game
Show your child how to report and block on their favourite game in case if they ever receive upsetting messages or if a player tries to sabotage their game.
Explore our Net Aware reviews if you’re unsure how to do this. We have reviews for popular games such as Roblox, Minecraft and Among Us that will give you advice about how to report and block on specific apps.
On some games players can volunteer to be admins or moderators to help stop inappropriate behaviour on the platform. They have the power to delete upsetting comments and delete players who aren’t following the rules.
If your child is experiencing ‘griefing’ or gets sent upsetting comments tell them to contact an admin or moderator and ask if they can remove the player.
Most games consoles have settings in place so you can block a player from playing with you on that specific device.
Make sure to explore the device settings on your child’s games console and show them how they can block players. You might want to check out these articles:
If your child comes across something while playing a game that upsets them you should encourage them to leave the game and tell you.
In gaming, individual games are sometimes referred to as ‘servers’. Normally there’s an option to leave a game or ‘server’ by selecting an icon in the corner of the screen.
Explore parental controls
Before you let your child play a new game make sure to see if it has any safety settings you can switch on to help keep them safer. Some gaming sites like Roblox, have parental controls that can help you restrict the types of games your child can play and who can contact them.
If you wanted to you could also set up your own account to play with your child. This could be a great way to have fun together and explore the settings yourself.
Show them how to set up a private game
Gaming is often more fun when done with other people. But there are risks involved in letting your child play games with players they don’t know. We would recommend only letting your child play games with people they know and have met before, like school friends. Explore whether your child can set up their own private game or server on their favourite game.
Agree some rules around who they’re allowed to play with and show them how to invite their friends to the private game. Make sure to check in regularly with how it’s going and remind them to never share the invite link with people they don’t know or without checking its ok with you first.
Be aware that on some gaming accounts you need to be a certain age to set up your own server or game so you might need to set up one for your child.
Help them choose a strong password
Choosing a strong password can help reduce the risk of a gaming account being hacked. Help your child come up with a unique password to make it more difficult for someone else to access their account.
Try to use a combination of lower and upper case words, numbers and symbols and avoid using common words and phrases. A good tip is to replace some letters with symbols and numbers. For example, H£ll0 instead of Hello.
You should aim to change your password every 3-6 months and you should have a different password for every account you have online. Remind your child to never share any personal information with players on the game, like where they live, pets or family names that could help someone guess their password.
Sometimes a person might pretend to be kind and offer to help another player play the game in order to gain access to their account and hack it. Remind your child to never share their password with anyone even if they offer to help them get through a difficult section of the game or move up another level.
Be aware of gaming jargon
The gaming community often use different words and acronyms to describe things that happen in games. And for a non-gamer, this can be quite confusing to get your head around…
If your child regularly plays games online it’s important that you try to stay up to date with how people are talking about gaming so you recognise when something might have happened with your child. Here are some terms we think you should know:
Whisper – In gaming sometimes a private message is referred to as a Whisper.
Griefing – This is when another player harasses another player and stops them advancing in the game.
Noob – This describes someone who is new to a game or younger players. It could be used to tease another player.
Clans – A group of players who regularly play multiplayer games together.
Ragequit – when someone gets upset or angry playing a game and quits.
You might also want to ask your child to teach you about some of the different terms and phrases they use while gaming. This could be a fun way to start the conversation around how to stay safe and help you learn more about what they enjoy doing online.