Online gaming

There are lots of different types of online games. Some are simple games that you can play on your own and others are big multiplayer games with hundreds of people. We can help you learn how to stay safe online when playing games. 

What are online games?

Lots of people play games online. You can play games on: 

  • consoles and computers
  • mobile apps
  • websites.

There are many types of online games. Some are simple games you can play on your own like the games on our website. Others are multiplayer games with 2 or more people who you might not know.

You can also talk to people through the game itself, a console network, chat site or gaming forum. You can talk through instant messenger, a headset or video chat. Some people like to watch other gamers playing on live-streaming sites.

Games are a great way to relax and have fun. But it’s important to be careful about what you share online and keep yourself safe.

5 top tips for staying safe online:

  1. tell a trusted adult if something upsets you. Check how to report, block, or mute other players before you start playing
  2. there's nothing wrong with losing - sometimes you'll win and sometimes you'll lose
  3. respect other players and don't upset anyone in order to get ahead
  4. check game ratings - they tell you if the game is unsuitable for younger age groups
  5. don't spend all your time gaming - make time for your family and friends, other social activities and homework

Online gaming: the risks

Gaming is meant to be fun. But sometimes things people do could make you upset or uncomfortable. Being aware of some of the risks can help you to stay safe.

  • Not everyone will be nice or the same age as you
    Some gamers may say nasty things or try to bully and upset other players. This can be done by people you know or strangers.
  • Some people may use games to try and groom children
    This is when they try to build a relationship or friendship with a young person to trick or pressure them into doing something sexual.
  • Some games may have content which might upset you
    This could include violence, horror, or sex. It may be more life-like if you play virtual reality games.
  • Some people find it hard to stop playing
    Gaming may affect the rest of their life and turn into an addiction.

Keeping gaming safe and fun

Bullying in games

Gaming is meant to be fun. It’s not ok for other players to be nasty or make you feel bad. People may bully you in games by:

  • saying nasty things or constantly targeting you
  • excluding you from playing
  • stealing or destroying your online items or creations
  • cheating to get ahead
  • stealing your identity or sharing your personal information
  • hacking your account.

People who bully others in games often don’t know the person they’re bullying and will randomly target people. 

If someone's nasty to you, try not to get angry. Instead, try playing with different people or take a break. You may also be able to block or report other players. You might find it helpful to keep a record of the bullying so you can report it to the social network.

It's also important to respect other players and think about how you’d feel in their situation.

Remember

If someone's bullying you in a game it’s not okay - and it’s not your fault.

Build your confidence after online bullying

Online grooming

Some people may use games to build relationships with young people and trick them into sexual activities. They could try to build your trust by:

  • buying you items in the game or helping you complete it
  • giving you compliments or asking for your help playing
  • asking you personal questions
  • showing you have things in common, such as the game
  • asking you to continue the conversation outside of a game, such as on a different social network or messaging app.

Groomers can behave differently. They may talk to you in the game or ask you to talk privately on chat sites such as Skype. They could ask you to send sexual pictures of yourself.

It can be hard to tell if someone is grooming or trying to trick you. Even if someone helps you in a game, you shouldn’t feel pressured into doing anything you’re uncomfortable with. If you’re feeling worried, hang up or cancel the chat and speak to an adult you trust.

You can also report an adult or stranger if they’ve sent a sexual message or asked you to send one, done anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, or asked you to meet up with them.

When games may be affecting your life

It's really important to be aware of when you feel like you might be addicted to something, such as online gaming. If you're addicted, your games may:

  1. stop you from seeing your seeing friends or family
  2. take the place of doing homework
  3. make it hard to stop thinking about playing
  4. make you unable to stop playing, even when you need to sleep.

If you feel seriously addicted to something, it’s a good idea to get support. Talking to a professional – like a doctor or counsellor – can really help. But there are also some ways you can help yourself and take control of your addiction.