5 Tips to Protect Kids During Online Gaming

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uKnow.com’s co-founder, Tim Woda, offers advice to help parents keep their kids safe from digital dangers including child predators and cyberbullying while using social networking components in online games

Even the most vigilant of parents are struggling to keep up with advancing technologies that allow kids to be online without parental knowledge.

According to a 2012 study by TDG Research, 80 percent of an expected 190 million households (approximately 148 million households) with next generation video game consoles will have this console connected to the Internet. Unfortunately, many parents do not know the risks associated with social gaming including cyberbullying, sexting and child predators.

“Even the most vigilant of parents are struggling to keep up with advancing technologies that allow kids to be online without parental knowledge,” says Tim Woda, a Digital Safety Expert and the co-founder of uKnow.com, a provider of parental intelligence systems. “Parents need to know that any time your child is online, they are at risk for such issues as identity theft, cyberbullying, sexting and online predators. Additionally, Internet-connected gaming devices are now a popular way for cybercriminals to place malware and viruses in a home network.”

Tim offers the following advice to parents trying to manage their child’s gaming console:

  •     Set the rules up front. Make sure you child knows that under no circumstances are they ever to give out any personal information via the gaming consoles, such as their address, passwords, parent’s credit card numbers, etc.
  •     Agree on downloads or game purchases. Nearly all games are identified by a universal rating similar to movies (“E” for everyone, etc.) Make sure your child knows what ratings range he is allowed to play within, and stick to consequences should they stray.
  •     Stay in safe zones. Just as you teach your child that they should check both ways before crossing the street and to never walk alone at night, kids need to understand how to avoid dangerous places online. And, if they do find themselves in a risky place, tweens/teens need to know what to do: never engage with someone they don’t know, never forward/share explicit conversations or pictures, delete any unpleasant content, and most importantly, talk about it with your parents.
  •     Ensure your child understands that people aren’t necessarily who they say they are in cyberspace. We don’t want to scare our kids, but it is imperative that they understand that stranger danger exists online as well. Johnny316 may not be the 13 year old boy from the next town, but instead, a 45 year old convicted sex offender. Parents should read “11 Signs That Your Child is being Targeted by a Child Predator” to fully understand the issue.
  •     Understand what your child is doing on their gaming system. Many parents do not even know their child’s gaming system has a social networking profile that can be public to anyone with an Internet connection. A service like uKnowKids (and the new uKnowSearch™ service), can identify, monitor and report a child’s activity on a gaming device (or social networking account or mobile phone).

About Tim Woda
Tim is an Internet and child safety advocate, public speaker, author, and co-founder of uKnow.com. He has made protecting kids from digital dangers his life mission after his own child was targeted online by a child predator. You can get more useful safety tips at TimWoda.com or on Twitter at @TimWoda.

About uKnow.com
Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Arlington, Va., uKnow.com is the only company that offers a parental intelligence system available for both private-label and consumer use. The company powers the world's leading Parental Intelligence Systems including uKnowKids.com, KidSafe.me, SafeCyberKids.com, SocialFirefly.com, aBeanstalk.com, MySocialScout.net, and p911Safety.com, among others.

uKnow.com works with companies and organizations to help parents protect their kids from child predators, sexting, and cyberbullying with a special focus on the social networks and mobile phone. uKnow.com’s technology provides parents with a bird's eye view of what is going on in their child's digital world so that they can keep their finger on the pulse, and when necessary, take action to protect the safety and privacy of their kids. You can find uKnow.com on Twitter at twitter.com/uKnow_com, on Facebook at facebook.com/uKnow.com, and on their Parenting Blog.

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