Keeping kids safe with online gaming

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Keeping kids safe with online gaming

Parents need to know that online gaming whether it is through the XBox, the Playstation 3 or the Wii certainly offers our kids a fun and engaging experience. But there are a couple of concerns to be aware of, particularly when it comes to the live multiple player versions. Those include: cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate content, and in some cases predation. Now cyberbullying does not happen all the time but it is most common in the multiplayer games. So that means while your child is connected to their gaming station, they are playing with another person over the internet. With popular games such as Halo and Call of Duty that have a ESRB rating of M for Mature, it often encourages and gets users that are very competitive throwing out expletives, making violent comments or sexist remarks. And that is when it is most likely that your child will be involved in a cyberbullying incident. Games that were made for a younger audience have an ESRB rating of E for Everyone and don´t require the multiplayer version. So it is important parents that you check out the ESRB ratings of all of the games that your kids play. Now, although it is not as common, law enforcement will attest to the fact that these online games are used by predators to befriend your child, engage them in a conversation, get to know them with the goal specifically of trying to meet them in real life. It is important to know that 14% of nine to 14 year olds and 12% of 15 to 18 year olds have chosen to go meet someone in real life that they met online without telling their parents. 50% of those kids that went out and met that stranger in real life were sexually assaulted or threatened. If your child is like mine, they really want to play the multiplayer version with all of their friends. I encourage you to do something radical and invite the friends over to your house so they can play together all in one room and have the same enjoyable experience. And that is also important to know that all of these game systems have family settings. I encourage you to activate them. You can restrict the types of games, the ratings that they play, as well as prohibit online access. And if you are worried about remembering or figuring out how to do that, the good news is all of this information with picture instructions is available at

See Mary Kay Hoal's video on Keeping kids safe with online gaming...


Expert Bio

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Mary Kay Hoal

Family Internet Safety Expert

Mary Kay Hoal is a nationally recognized expert on children’s online safety. She is the founder and president of Yoursphere Media Inc., which focuses on the family and publishes the kids’ social network Mary Kay also offers parents Internet-safety information and tips at She has been profiled on CNN, Fox & Friends, FOX Business, E!, Lifetime TV, ABC News Now, and The Reader's Digest. Mary Kay is also part of the "Web Avenger" team for ABC's 20/20.

In 2012, Mary Kay founded The Yoursphere Media Foundation and Coalition for Internet Safety Education and Reform (FCISER), which is dedicated to creating a network of community educators that provide children, their parents, schools and communities, with the necessary skills, knowledge and tools they need to have a positive and safer digital experience.

Mary Kay has also been published on sites such as, Yahoo! Shine and ABC News where she's able to reach millions of parents. 


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