13 Tips for Being a Safe Gamer

More and more of us are spending an increasing amount of time gaming. But whether you're gaming yourself, with friends or with unknown users, it's important to be aware of the risks. Follow our 13 golden gaming rules to make sure you stay safe.

1. Secure your computer

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

It's also a good idea to make sure to keep your device up-to-date as the latest version of system software released by the manufacturer will have patches for errors and known viruses. 

You might also want to think about getting a VPN if you're using public wifi to play games. This protects your identity and keeps your data secure. 

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. Create a good password

Use a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and characters to keep it as secure as possible. Avoid passwords that are easily guessable such as names or usernames. Just make sure it's something you can remember!

4. Stick to your username

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. Report harassment

If a player 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. Avoid hidden charges

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.

7. Stand up to bullying

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. Keep video and audio between friends

Webcams and voice features are great ways of chatting 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.

9. Remember: it's a game

Gaming is a virtual reality, not actual reality. Do not attempt to mimic behaviour or actions involving weapons, driving or social interaction.

10. Gaming is meant to be fun!

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.

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.

13. Only use trusted sources

Places such as the App Store, Playstation Store, Google Play and the Microsoft Store are safe to use. Make sure to update games as soon as the new software becomes available.

Find out how to report players on various platform by visiting the links below.