As weekends approach; like every kid, my son too gets excited about playing his most favourite games. I expect this since he loves playing video games and online games, without any interruption.
Now that doesn’t mean I approve of kids remaining glued to the TV or monitor for hours on end without any kind of physical exercise. I encourage a judicious mix of both to make the vacations worthwhile. What’s more, the husband looks forward to return home early to engage in a good bout of gaming with the son while daughter and I roll our eyes, shake our head and say “Boys!” with a long sigh and curl down on the sofa to watch a rom-com.
But here’s letting you on a secret – I enjoy playing games too. Yes, I really do. Just love the adrenalin rush and sense of competition! I also enjoy the way my son tutors me while we play and I love watching him as he drools over the graphics, sound, story board and controls. So when I can snatch a few moments, I turn on the monitor and invite him to play with me. Great bonding time! Sometimes, daughter joins us and the three of us laugh, shout, and fight, and time just flies by.
Here’s a checklist to keep my kids safe from the virtual threats of gaming:
- McAfee Total Protection (with family protection included) installed and updated
- Monitor/TV strategically placed in the drawing room, with the screen visible from other parts of the room
- A selection of video games rented/bought (pre-approved by kids) whose ESRB ratings conform to my kids’ age
- Look up the net to gather the latest info on the games children play online and probable threats
- Check the parental controls on the PC/XBOX and customise settings
In addition, we have some strictly-to-be followed rules for Internet usage that I take care to repeat without fail, as often as I find it necessary. They include:
i. You have to play within the hours fixed for you. Exceeding your time will earn you penalty
ii. You should not indulge in chatting with strangers while playing online games
iii. You must never share information like name, age, gender or address while gaming
iv. You must not play games that have not been pre-approved by parents
v. If you want to play online games with strangers, inform us first and do so only after we have checked and approved
vi. Under no circumstances are you to use our credit or debit cards to buy apps /games
vii. If a gamer wants to meet you outside, bothers you with inappropriate questions or language, inform us IMMEDIATELY. Don’t leave it for later
It also helps, if parents and kids together take this McAfee online Safety Quiz. You would be able to check your awareness of online threats and be assured that kids will play safely. Do reiterate that the internet is a privilege given to them. So it’s their duty to use it correctly and responsibly.