Safe Mobile and Online Gaming for Kids

Any parent who's tried to come between their child and a session of Angry Birds or Farmville will know just how devoted kids can be to mobile and online gaming. Here are a few ways you can make sure your child stays entertained without getting bullied, downloading a virus, or spending your grocery budget on games.

Stay involved. Keep your gaming console in a common area of your home or stay nearby when your child is playing. For multi-player games, you could even join in. You might actually have fun, and you'll certainly have a better idea of what your child it up to.

Use parental controls. Your gaming console has parental controls so that you can block kids from accessing games that aren't age-appropriate. You can also set limits on how much time they spend gaming, and who they play with.

Explain what's private information and what's public. Your child shouldn't be sharing information like your home address or their school with anybody who isn't a peer who they've met in person. Similarly, their screen name shouldn't reveal their age, gender, or location.

Teach them how to deal with bad behavior. If a fellow gamer is being hostile or abusive, you can block them. You can also report complaints to the game service. If you suspect your child is legitimately threatened (by cyberbullies or by online predators), call the local police.

Set budgets. That means budget for both screen time and spending. It's very easy to download gaming apps from App Store or the Android Market, so check your iTunes account or mobile phone bill to make sure Junior isn't breaking the bank.

Embrace technology. The same antivirus and antispyware software that keeps you safe elsewhere on the Web can make sure your gaming experience is a safe one, too.

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