Play Together / Play Smart

Get advice to make gaming fun, responsible and safe for the whole family.

Gaming age guides

Ian Wright shares the benefits of getting involved in children’s gaming to help them play responsibly
Display video transcript
I played videogames with my kids, and I still play them now with my grandkids. I find it a great way to connect with them and have fun. But I know this can be alien for some parents.

Gaming can be great for your kids, though. Like football, it can keep them connected with friends, teach them about cooperation and the importance of practice. It can show them how to focus and build their confidence.

But if you’re wondering about what your kids are doing while they’re playing video games and how much time they’re spending, then there’s help out there.

If you take the time to get involved, video games can be enjoyed safely and responsibly by the whole family.

That means talking to your kids, finding out what games they like and if they’re age appropriate. Find out who they like to play with and how often they do it. Discuss how often they should be playing and for how long.

But to get properly involved, I’d say you get a lot from playing with your kids. It has given me a proper understanding of why they enjoy playing so much and makes talking about it much easier.

You’ll know how they’re spending their time and it’ll help you to help them play safely and responsibly.

As a parent and grandparent I get that you don’t always have the time for this, so setting some reasonable limits for when they play alone is also a good idea.

According to Internet Matters, just over one third of parents have set controls on their kids’ gaming systems. That’s low.

Many parents think that setting up controls is complicated. But every platform – console or otherwise – will have a step-by-step guide and most who’ve set up controls on their console say it’s surprisingly easy to do.

Knowing what you have control over helps put your mind at ease. It’s also why a lot of parents keep the games system in a family room, not in the kids’ bedroom, so they can keep track of what’s going on.

It may not always seem like it, but our kids and grandkids love it when we take an interest.

So, get involved and make playing together and talking with your kids about what they’re up to normal, both online and offline, so you can feel confident that they’re gaming safely and responsibly.

Get involved

Take an active interest in what your child is doing and get closer to the games they play.

What you need to know

Gaming is a fun and sociable way for children to spend time online, encouraging teamwork and developing skills. To help children make the most of their time, there are a couple of things to remember:

  • Game age ratings: All games have clear age ratings to help you make a decision on whether it’s suitable for your child
  • Chat functions: Many games now feature chat functions so it’s important to understand how your child is interacting with people while playing
  • Online issues: If in the unfortunate situation cyberbullying or ‘griefing’ takes place during gameplay coping strategies and reporting mechanisms are available to support you and your child
  • In-game spending: Many games now feature ways for children to enhance their experience by using real money to buy items in the game like accessories for avatars. On some platforms, these can often be managed by using parental controls and settings
  • Tools to manage screen time: Most consoles and some gaming platforms have ways that you and your child can stay on top of time spent playing games to make sure children take regular breaks from gameplay

For more advice take a look at our Online Gaming Basics guide to learn more tips to empower you to have meaningful conversations with your children around their gameplay and help them to develop good gaming habits.

Choosing the best games

Great games are those that both challenge and teach your child something that they can use in the real world, bringing to life experiences in new ways. To help you choose the best games for your child we’ve created a checklist outlining what to look out for.

Go to the Choosing Games guide for further support.

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Set boundaries to encourage safe and responsible gaming

Learn more about parental controls and tools available to manage how your children interact and engage with the games they play and encourage them to develop healthy gaming habits.

Screen time & boundaries

While gaming can be a great way for children to spend their time online, taking the time to set some digital rules around time spent playing games, interactions during gameplay and the types of games they should play can help strike a healthy balance between their online and offline activities. Check out more tips to help children manage their gameplay.

You can also read our article ‘What to do if gaming gets out of hand’ to help children manage their emotions when gaming affects their mood.

Healthy gaming top tips

Encouraging children to take regular breaks from gameplay, making gaming active and knowing coping strategies to use when needed are just a few ways to help young people develop good gaming habits. For more information, take a look at our Healthy Gaming Top Tips guide.

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Benefits of gaming

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