Video Games Safety Discussions with Kids

Playing video games is part of our culture. A study by NDP Group found that 71% of kids between the ages 2 and 17 played video games. It is not for me to say if kids should or shouldn’t play video games; I’ll leave the parenting to the parents. If your kids do play video games, the following are some important safety discussions to have with your kids regarding video games focused on firearm safety and situational awareness.

Video Games Safety

Video Game popularity and technology have come a long way since the days of Nintendo Duck Hunt and Pong. Now, we are immersed in a high-tech world of games that let you interact with strangers who are also playing that game with realistic representations of firearms, people, and special effects like the images of a driving, flying, crime scenes and war. What isn’t realistic is the killing or dying; the taking or losing of life. It’s a game, you buy or win more lives, or just start over. It is not finite, like life really is. 

Video Game Old School

Video Games and Firearms Safety

As we have traveled around the country, we have met far too many kids who think they are “firearms experts” because they play video games and know all the names of the guns. With the rare exceptions, most don’t fully understand firearms safety. There was also a study reported by JAMA Network Open, that states “habitual exposure to violent media was also a risk factor for dangerous behavior around firearms.” This is why it is important that you have a conversation with your kids about firearm safety. We start our conversations with the Firearm Safety Rules: already treat a gun like its loaded; always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction; always keep your finger off the trigger until you’re on target and ready to shoot; always know what is in front of and behind your target; and always secure and store your gun away from unauthorized persons.  We then explain the “why” behind each of these rules. Hopefully, most youth have not experienced loved ones and friends passing away, so how do they really know what death is? We ask them what happens if they squish a bug or a spider? It dies, can it ever come back? NO. This is why we never point a gun at anything we don’t want to destroy. Please refer to the Parents’ Resources at Project ChildSafe for more information.

Know the five safety rules for safe gun ownership

Video Games and Situational Awareness

Situational Awareness is extremely important if your child plays video games online and has access to text chat, video chat and/or voice chat. Stranger Danger has reached a prominent level, in that we can let strangers into our homes, with direct access to our children, through video games and social media.

In an article published July 6, 2023, by Henry Lee and the Bay City News the FBI warned the public of that sexual predators and human traffickers are working together to turn youth into victims.   The FBI says predators are posing as children of the same age as their unsuspecting targets and are joining chats, games, or online groups. What gradually becomes deviant conversations online are then deemed normal by others in the group whom the children believe are their peers. The children are often unaware that they are actually speaking with adults, and children may be more likely to trust individuals when they believe that other children in the group already know and trust the predator.

video safety

Have Fun, but Practice Video Games Safety

Take the steps necessary to protect your kids. One way to check on them, is to play the game with them. Not only will you have fun, but you will also see the other people playing the game. recommends having conversations with your children about playing games online, to include the following topics:

Which friends and family members they’re allowed to play with

Why they should only play online with people they know and avoid strangers.

Why it’s important not to share personal information online with anyone.

How to enable privacy settings to stop strangers from contacting them (for older kids and teens)

How to delete or block people on their contact lists

That it is OK to talk with you if something bad happens during the game.

To let you know if a stranger contacts them or they feel bullied by other players.

Why they should never meet with someone they only “know” online in the real world.

Since the majority of youth are playing video games, to keep them safe, there needs to be deliberate, meaningful, and repeated conversations with children about playing video games. 

having fun playing video games
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *