The variety and quantity of video games available to our children is quite frankly — overwhelming. At least once a week my son asks me to enter my Apple ID into iTunes so he can download another app to his iPad. Often he asks when I’m in the middle of a household task, like cooking dinner, and always with a sense of urgency, as if the app were going to disappear. Then he calls one of his friends across town, or best friend who’s out of state, through Facetime and they’ll play the game together. For his safety and my peace of mind, I make a point of keeping him close by so I know who’s in the game with him.
Identity and Safety Risks
Not knowing how to navigate the social risks associated with careless gaming could easily lead to identity theft, or worse, your child being contacted by an adult posing as a child, soliciting personal information, or attempting to arrange a place for them to meet. And hackers are innovative when it comes to developing new malaware (computer viruses, trojan horses, worms, etc.) to steal credentials and other valuable personal information.
The risks are real and Stay Safe Online offers an exhaustive list of gaming tips for parents, children, and teens and tweens.
Here are some tips to help you keep your identity intact and your computer hardware virus-free:
- Avoid executable (.exe) add-ons that promise to add extra functionality to a game, as these may be infected with keylogging software or viruses designed to steal your login credentials.
- Game Masters (GMs) will never ask for your login information
- Create a strong password that includes upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols that only you could know.
- Be skeptical of third-party applications, especially knock-off games; do your research.
- Be wary of links and attachments delivered to you via email or instant message that say your password has been compromised; they could be phishing attempts that direct you to imposter sites! Research by contacting the site through established channels.
- Before purchasing a game online, make sure the URL, or web address, begins with “https”; use a credit card instead of debit card
- Like a toothbrush, don’t share your computer, because a less savvy person could easily and unknowingly download malaware.
- Keep your anti-virus software updated
- Review your credit card and banking statements on a monthly basis
- Stay abreast of the latest hacker methods by reading sites such as ours
- and the risks associated with over-sharing; let them know that you’re not trying to be a “downer,” but have their best interests at heart
Here’s a clever Minecraft Youtube video created by some students for a school project. It could be a great way to get the conversation started.
Do you know what online games your child plays, and whether they’re interacting or chatting with strangers on public servers? Protect yourself and your children by taking control of your security and having those difficult conversations.
To learn more about privacy and identity theft issues related to video games, please read our article on Minecraft.