Gaming is bigger than ever these days, with people from all walks of life putting on a headset and taking a trip into the virtual world. However, like with most things in the digital age, there are risks. But don’t let security risks overshadow your gaming enjoyment, follow some straightforward safety precautions to stay safe when gaming.
Statistics show that a massive percentage of Gen Z enjoy online gaming, with 81% playing for an average of 7 hours a week. 77% of Millennials, 60% of Gen X, and 42% of baby boomers also make up the gaming world.
With a range of demographics playing video games, more than likely, you will be playing with someone who is older or younger than you are. Gaming is a great chance to make new friends or simply hang out with friends you already have but communicating with people you don’t know exposes you to potential dangers, especially for younger gamers.
There are some simple things young gamers can do to protect themselves. For example, when creating a profile, use an avatar instead of a real picture. Protect your identity by keeping your webcam off and never including your full name in your username. The good news is that a recent ExpressVPN survey found that Gen Z has a high awareness of interest in safety and precautions. Although not everyone is savvy when it comes to tech, whatever your technological age is, we all need to protect our privacy and stay secure online.
Tips for Safe Gaming
Whether you enjoy gaming on mobile devices, consoles, or VR headsets, here are tips to follow to keep yourself safe.
- Use trusted game sites. Be sure to only ever download games from official sites that maintain a high level of security. Never download games from social media or emails, even if it looks official. It will most likely open you up to phishing.
- Use anti-malware software. If you download an ad-on or mod, malware could easily be attached.
- Protect your identity. Set things to private wherever possible and use a VPN that protects your IP.
- Use complex passwords. The general rule is to use unique passwords with a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Don’t ever give personal information. Don’t share your address, relationship status, date of birth, and especially not your financial information.
- Back up your data. If you run into security difficulties, you will already have everything backed up on your device.
Another safety concern is inappropriate content or bullying, especially for younger users. Remember, you are always in control, not just of who you interact with online but also of how you interact with them.
If you come across someone or something that makes you feel unfortunate while gaming, mute or turn off your device and walk away. If you are a minor, tell an adult you trust and save or take screenshots of any messages you may need to show someone else later.
Bullying and offensive remarks can have long-term consequences, so it’s important to take them seriously. Block and report anyone who sends bullying, explicit or aggressive messages. Fortunately, console developers like Microsoft and Sony have made it easier than ever to report players who don’t adhere to rules of conduct and can issue temporary bans on their communication.
It can be a minefield when gaming online, but with tips, you can try to mitigate any risks and have a fun experience while remaining safe at the same time.