Online video games allow players to use the internet to connect and play with people from all over the world, making it a great way to catch up with old pals, make new friends, and even fall in love. However, there is a darker side to online gaming.
Toxic gaming refers to a negative video game environment where players harass and bully others. If your child plays video games in an online format, they have likely experienced this type of behavior. The anonymity of online gaming makes players feel like they can do and say whatever they want without any consequence. When a player becomes so deeply absorbed in a game, it can be easy to let emotions run high—which often leads to a toxic gaming environment.
For example, if a team is working together to complete a mission, and one player makes a mistake just before they succeed, a toxic gamer could lash out with insults, threats, and other harmful language.
If you think your child has been exposed to a toxic gaming community, read on. We’ve listed five tips below to help you and your child combat this kind of experience and its side effects.
Related Read: Online Harassment – It’s Not Just Happening with Kids
How to Avoid Toxic Gaming Situations
Mute Negative Players
Encourage your child to mute consistently negative players. They can easily filter out toxic gamers while still enjoying conversation with the rest of the team.
It might be more difficult for your child to mute a friend or someone they play with often, but remind them how much better it feels to play when everyone is respectful, positive, and encouraging.
Most online games allow you to report players who use excessive profanity, target individuals, and issue threats. Gaming companies investigate reported players and determine whether to kick them off temporarily or permanently ban their accounts.
If your child doesn’t know how to report this abuse, encourage them to talk to and work with you to resolve the issue quickly.
Use Parental Controls
Choose an internet provider that supports the use of parental controls. With this tool, you can limit the amount of time your child spends online and monitor their use.
Limit Headset Use
If your child uses a headset to communicate with online players, they may be experiencing toxic gaming right in front of you. To better prevent your child from falling into a dangerous gaming situation, limit headset use or ask them to let you listen in while they’re playing. This way, you can become more aware of the other players’ language and behavior and act more quickly if something seems amiss.
Check in Often
Checking in with your child consistently can help you notice an issue before it becomes too severe. If your child is more irritable than normal or seems depressed, talk to them about their experiences with online gaming to see if that’s the cause of your child’s behavior.
Toxic gaming is a serious issue that your child may be dealing with every day, but there are ways you can help them overcome the negativity and have a more enjoyable gaming experience.
Related Read: How to Keep Your Kids Safe From Social Media Predators
Contribution by Hilary Bird
About the Author
Hilary Bird is a digital journalist who writes about the things that fascinate her the most: relationships, technology, and how they impact each other. As more and more people become more and more reliant on their tech devices, Hilary wants to help them stay safe and understand how these devices will reshape the way we communicate.