How to Protect Children from Offensive Language in Online Gaming

Last night was a typical night for me. I got home from work, hung out with my wife and son until they fell asleep on the couch, and turned on my Xbox 360 for some Modern Warfare 2 action. Like most nights, I logged in to play Team Deathmatch Express mode. However, I was very surprised by the group that I was thrown into. The language was full of profanity, racial slurs, and sexual innuendos. I was appalled. Since online gaming allows players to speak directly to one another and is not monitored by game makers, I had heard occasional swear words and off-colored comments before, but nothing like this. This group was a particularly over-competitive and shameless bunch. I looked back to make sure that my son was still fast asleep. He is only two and wouldn’t understand some of the comments being made, but I wondered how I would be able to protect him when he is old enough to understand and play along. Here are some tips to help protect your children from offensive content in the online gaming community.

Supervise your Child

Okay, this sounds like common sense. However, it today’s world, it is easy to let kids go in another room and watch movies and play video games. For the most part, this usually keeps kids entertained and out of trouble. With online gaming, the situation is a little different. First, it is not monitored by game makers. In fact, the games usually display a disclaimer in the startup screen that online game play has a NR (Not Rated) rating. Second, online gaming allows you to play against people from all over the world. Remember, these people are strangers. You wouldn’t leave your child alone in a room full of strangers, would you?

Set up Parental Controls

What if you can’t be there to supervise? Simply, “cut the cord”. Most consoles have built in parental controls that allow parents to block their child from accessing online content without a password.

Adjust the Game Settings

Some games are now made with special options that allow you to block out other player’s commentary, but still allow you to hear other sounds in the game. This, by far, is one of the best solutions. Unfortunately, many of the games on the market don’t give you the option.

Move to Another “Room”

If your child happens to get stuck with a unusually routy bunch, ask them to exit that match and reenter. This will pair them up with a new batch of players for the next round.

Turn Off the Volume

In some games, sound is not required to play the game. If this is the case, simply turn the volume down or mute your TV.

Friends Only

If you are having trouble avoiding the “bad apples” of the online gaming community, you may have to limit your child to playing with friends or people that they know. Of course, your child may not like this option, but it is better than allowing them to hear comments that would make a sailor blush.

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