Holiday Shopping: Tips for Choosing Safe Online Games and Devices

It happens every year around this time, but somehow it still manages to sneak in. Yes, it’s holiday shopping season again and it’s time for an annual reminder on how to make smart choices for your kids.

Whether your child is among the one in two teens or your child among the four out of five children playing online games today, we have a whole new set of guidelines for you this year, especially as game developers have introduced some new ones. main draws.

Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360, a motion-controlled video game (much like Wii without a controller), for example, should be a best seller as well as the new Sony PlayStation Move bundle. Industry watchers are also predicting strong sales for Halo: Reach (a game best left to adults), Wii Party, Fallout: New Vegas, Rock Band 3, and a handful of others.

Online Gaming 2010, a research report from the NPD group, indicates that the average gamer spends eight hours a week in online gaming, an increase of about 20 minutes a week compared to 2009. That’s a lot of time spent playing and a lot of opportunities . for danger.

Injuries

Danger comes in two varieties. The first is an injury, mainly caused by repetitive movements. In fact, computer game systems come with warnings, advising players to be aware of eye strain and orthopedic injuries. To protect yourself from those:

Make sure your child takes at least a 15-minute break every hour.
Take care of any complaints of sore joints or muscles after your children play. These can be warning signs of the development of repetitive injuries. Insist your child on suspending the game for a few days, then restrict the limits to the amount of time they are allowed to spend.
Another risk to watch out for is seizures. They are rare, only one in 4,000 players have them, but if your child has ever had a seizure or loss of consciousness, be especially careful.
If, despite your best efforts, your child suffers a significant injury, consult an attorney about a potential tort complaint. Some parents may resist, thinking the legal system may fail or blame themselves for giving the toy or device to the child. But as we say every year, the threat of punishment can be a powerful deterrent for manufacturers prone to taking security-compromising shortcuts w88

Privacy and general security

The second form of danger focuses more on your child’s privacy, emotional well-being, and extraneous danger. These tips can help.

Do your homework. While games have rating systems, and it’s important to understand them, it’s even more important to go a step further and assess whether they are appropriate for your child’s and family’s values. A number of online parenting websites provide good feedback, many of which can share your values. The Common Sense Media site is a good place to start. If you are going to spend $ 50 on a game, you want to know what your child will learn and what he will do.
Establish the rules before your child plays. At the very least, you’ll want to set time limits, but many families also develop rules for their children to play on, chat with strangers, and most importantly share personal information (name, age, school, address, email address, etc.) . Some families have even developed contracts with their children that outline the rules and consequences of their violation.
Avoid voice chat. Some game systems have live chat capabilities. While there are programs available to make your child’s voice sound older, they are also available to make adults’ voices look younger. The best solution is to limit live chat to only people your child and you know.
Take full advantage of built-in protections and signaling systems. Most systems allow you to block and / or report players who use abusive language or are involved in cyberbullying. You will want to learn about these systems before your child plays.
Monitor the game. Just as you need to monitor to avoid physical injury, you also need to monitor to avoid other dangers. This begins by keeping the online gaming systems in the open family areas of your home (not the bedrooms). Make sure your child is following the rules you set out in advance, taking appropriate breaks and playing games that conform to your values.