12 Tips to Be a Safe Gamer in Lifestyle

More and more of us are spending an increasing amount of time gaming. It might be on a computer, a dedicated console or through a smartphone or tablet, gaming is becoming increasingly integrated with the rest of our lives. But whether you're gaming yourself, with friends or with unknown users, it's important to be aware of the risks. Follow our 12 golden gaming rules to make sure you stay safe.

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1. Secure your computer. Make sure your firewall is up to date so that no-one can hack in to your computer, send viruses or access your personal details.

2. Protect your identity. Your username shouldn't give any of your personal details away. Don't use your name, date of birth or anything that could let other players find out who you are. If you have to submit a profile picture or avatar, be sure not to use a selfie.

3. Make you password long and strong, using a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and characters. Avoid passwords that are easily guessable such as names or usernames. Just make sure it's something you can remember!

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4.  When you're playing with users you don't know, never give out your name or personal details. If you're playing with a mixture of friends and unknown users, make a pact to only use each other's usernames when playing publicly.

5. If a player you don't know does something to make you uncomfortable, tell a parent. Use the block and report function to prevent them from contacting you again. Do not respond to them as this will only encourage them to continue harassing you. 

6. Many games are free to play but some have hidden charges to unlock new levels and features whilst playing. Set your console up to request your password before each new charge. This is particularly important if your game is linked to a parent or guardian's credit card.

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7. Cyber bullying can sometimes occur whilst gaming. Don't let it stop you playing. Block and report them. On the other hand,  treat other users with respect. Don't speak to other gamers in a way you wouldn't like to be spoken to.

8. Webcams and voice features are great ways of engaging with your mates when gaming. But never use these features with users you don't know. If you have to use voice features, make sure you use a voice mask.

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9. Remember gaming is an virtual reality, not actual reality. Do not attempt to mimic behaviour or actions involving weapons, driving or social interaction. 

10. Remember that it's okay to lose. Gaming is supposed to be a fun hobby. Don't get too competitive. If you find yourself getting irritable or stressed, take a break.

11 . Take regular breaks (15 mins every hour is recommended). Playing for long periods of time can cause you health problems. Fresh air will help your eyes, posture and may even improve your game-play.

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12. Gaming can be addictive. Set yourself limits for how long you can play. If you feel you're unable to stop playing, speak to a parent or guardian.

Happy gaming!