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RGP to hold #Gaming4Good webinars

The Covid-19 pandemic (and the associated periods of “lockdown”) has led to many of us spending longer periods at home than ever before.

Much of this time ‘at home’ has in turn been spent online, from working at home to shopping online and gaming, the latter undergoing a massive increase in popularity throughout the course of the pandemic.

During the past year, the RGP has raised awareness around a variety of online threats using its popular social media platforms, both proactively and reactively in response to a particular online threat/scam targeting our community.

Examples include advice for parents of children in different age groups, security of devices whilst working from home, phishing/smishing scams, sextortion, ransomware and business compromise (CEO) fraud.

In February this year, the RGP were supported by several local partners in commemorating the annual Safer Internet Day.

The RGP is already resuming visits to schools to speak about online threats (now that covid allows), and recently participated in the Gibrael Chamber of Commerce panel discussion on cyber threats that also featured on GBC’s Viewpoint.

As with many online activities, there are positives and negatives to online gaming;
Some benefits of online gaming:
• Supporting the development of a wide range of cognitive and motor skills
• Developing qualities such as strategic thinking, rationalising, problem solving and persistence
• Encouraging creativity
• Teaching teamwork, in the case of many Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs or MMOs)
• Teaching competitiveness, in the case of multiplayer games
• Socialising with friends, especially when doing so in person is challenging owing to various restrictions.
• Learning the value of money and spending it wisely.

As an industry, game development often leads the way in technology, with innovations in functionality and features finding their way into other consumer products, as well as the defence, communications and other sectors.

Gaming equips children to understand and embrace this evolution and its benefits. Aside from these obvious benefits, gaming has proved a lifeline to many young people during periods of lockdown, relieving boredom and supporting their ongoing wellbeing at a time of unfamiliarity and upheaval.

Working with your child
Various surveys of internet usage in the UK carried out in 2020 and 2021 have highlighted how 7 in 10 children aged 5-15 play games online, how more time was spent gaming in a typical day during the pandemic, and that 22% of 8-15-year-olds chatted to people they knew only through playing the game.

Some survey responses indicated that parents’ understanding of their children’s online gaming activity can be very different from what children are actually doing, hence the importance of understanding and supporting your child’s interest in online gaming. There are things you can do to both encourage children to find the best games as well as helping them avoid the pitfalls outlined.

Some risks from online gaming

• Risks to children who play games online arise largely from the vast number of people locally and overseas who are also playing, the minimal restrictions involved and the fact that they are not playing face-to-face.
• Stranger danger can pose a risk to the safety of a child, or a risk of financial or identity theft to you, if your child overshares personal family information online. Cybercriminals also use gaming platforms and forums to recruit young people for illicit activities such as malware coding and money muling, and some radicalisation begins on gaming platforms.
• Playing games with an inappropriate age rating potentially exposes children to violent, sexual or other unsuitable content.
• Playing games which either reference gambling, or involve gambling to, for example, predict results or win money.
• Running up bills (for example, on in-game properties/in-app purchases), perhaps on a parent/guardian’s credit card.
• Spending excessive time gaming, to the exclusion of social contact, exercise and schoolwork, and potential health risks.

Promoting safe online gaming
• Work with your child to find the best games for their age, interests and personality.
• Join your child in online gaming from time to time and randomly. This will give you an idea of the games they’re playing and who they connect with.
• Have open and honest conversations with your child about their online gaming and the risks involved including stranger danger, bullying and oversharing. Tell them that not everybody they meet on gaming platforms and forums is who they claim to be.
• Set and monitor limits for the amount of daily or weekly time your children spend online gaming.
• You could pre-load some spending money on to their game, but when it’s gone, it’s gone.
• Check PEGI (Pan European Game Information) age ratings of games to ensure your children aren’t accessing inappropriate content.
• Don’t give your child access to your payment card details as extras can be very costly.
• Impress upon your child that they can come to you or another responsible adult with any concerns. Depending on their age, you could also discuss how to report issues to the gaming platform and/or the police.

One resource that provides very useful information to help parents research the online games your child does and could play (including content, features, benefits, negatives and age ratings) is the “Family Video Game Database” which can be found at www.taminggaming.com

#Gaming4Good webinars – June 2021
Through the RGP’s ongoing partnership with the UK’s “Get Safe Online,” the #Gaming4Good campaign that will run throughout June will include a series of free webinars for parents and guardians of children aged 2-18.

The three events will see a panel of experts in family gaming who will discuss psychology, gaming risk and finance, how to approach your child's gaming to help them get the most out of it... and avoid the pitfalls. There will also be a Q&A session after each webinar.

Free Webinar Details
• Thursday 17th June, 10–11am (UK time): parents & guardians with children 2–12yrs
• Thursday 24th June, 10–11am (UK time): parents & guardians with children aged 12–15yrs
• Wednesday 30th June 10-11am (UK time): parents & guardians with children aged 15–18yrs

Registration Link: https://www.getsafeonline.org/gaming4good-webinar-registration/

Panellists:

• Liz Stanton MBE, Get Safe Online (moderator)
• Annette Whalley, HSBC
• Cath Knibbs, cyber trauma specialist
• Adrian Sladdin, gaming & gambling expert
• Andy Robertson, author and gaming for kids expert
• Mat Hasker, Get Safe Online, gaming specialist

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