Education / Article

Your kids building air castles? Popular games and their risks

Have you talked to your kids these days? I bet all they talk about is some game out there, mentioning cheats, mods or blocks leaving you clueless of what that actually is.

Take for instance Minecraft, a really popular game these days allowing you to enjoy almost any activity like building castles, exploring unknown areas, or digging your own catacombs.  All that without a specific goal or ending, has become the third most sold game in history (70 million copies sold on all platforms) and the list of its registered users is 100 million strong, most of them reportedly being children under 15 (20.59%) or teenagers and youngsters up to 21 years of age (43.7%).

But if you are a parent, you should remember one thing. Any gaming environment with such a huge number of anonymous players, it is really easy for cybercriminals or even sexual predators to remain undetected. Acting as your kid’s peer, they can obtain sensitive personal information, passwords, and credit card data or even tempt them to do things, they wouldn’t and shouldn’t normally do.

Solicitors can become a serious problem mostly for parents whose teenagers are trying to become more and more independent and don’t look to them for advice. This should however not stop you helping them avoid the pitfalls. But what can you do?

First, make sure they only use secure devices for gaming – with a security solution installed, updated, and up and running. This applies not only for the desktop computer at home or the favorite laptop, but also for their phones and other mobile devices.

Also, explain to them that playing cheat or cracked versions is asking for trouble. Though many of them might be cheaper or even free, they most likely come laden with malware. Help them buy the original game instead, giving them part of the money back if they offer to pay for a portion of it themselves. A few euros extra is worth keeping them safe from the cybercriminals or sexual offenders.

If you want to be sure that the communication channels stay open, even with your teenage child, ESET Parental Control for Android is a good bet. It isn’t only a tool for parents keen to impose limits on their kids, it gives them a voice to ask for permissions to play games. It also makes it easy to block websites, which might be risky or display inappropriate content.

And last but not least, keep talking to them. Make it clear that not everybody they meet online – especially in online games and fora – is their friend. If possible, kids should play only with people they know in the real world. If not, teach them to be very careful about whom they talk to and watch for red flags – such as offers for sexting or asking for naked images.


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