According to the NDP group’s Evolution of Entertainment Study, seventy-three percent of Americans ages two and above play video games, and the percentage should rise next year. With so many young gamers on the Internet, it’s important to keep them safe.
Mobile games use sneaky tactics to target vulnerable gamers with in-app purchases like colorful visuals, special effects, color psychology, game psychology, pop-ups, personalized items, and ad removal. According to critics, even games with high production values such as Fortnite aren’t doing enough to protect children from unauthorized in-app purchases.
In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asked Apple and Google to issue millions of dollars in refunds to parents whose children had made in-app payments. A few years later, the FTC told Amazon to do the same.
To fight against in-app purchases:
- Never save your financial information on mobile phones, video game consoles, and computers.
- Use parental tools on your Nintendo, Xbox, PlayStation, Steam, Apple, Google, and other gaming platforms to stop unauthorized in-game purchases
- Educate and discipline young gamers about cyberthreats.
Online multiplayer games can get heated, resulting in the harassment of younger gamers. It’s best practice for young gamers to avoid confrontation, keep their sensitive information private, and concentrate on the game in order to stay safe.
Some harassers go a step further and use IP addresses to track young gamers and hack into their accounts. Harassers may also send police to the homes of their victims with deadly results in a practice called swatting.
An excellent way for young gamers to protect their online privacy is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect to the Internet. A good VPN service encrypts data, masks IP addresses, uses the latest VPN protocol, and offers many servers for gamers to enjoy fast gaming speeds.
However, not all VPN’s are worth using. Free VPNs aren’t good for gaming because they carry malicious software and are notoriously slow.
To learn more about what VPNs are and why do people use them — check the website of a top cybersecurity expert.
When kids aren’t making friends in video games, they’re making friends in gaming chat rooms and instant messaging apps designed for gamers like Discord. Cybercriminals take advantage of this fact every day — protected by the anonymity of the Internet, they’re making virtual connections with kids.
Awareness is the best defense for young gamers against stalkers. They should avoid trusting strangers online and avoid clicking on links in chat windows or email, as many contain a type of malicious software called Stalkerware. This malware can be used by stalkers to monitor their victims and record their data through a computer’s microphone or camera.
Young gamers should also use advanced antivirus software that can stop all types of malware in its tracks. The right cybersecurity software should also be light, so it doesn’t overload a gamer’s machine and slow it down.
While the video game world can be a challenging place for a young gamer, they can stay secure and enjoy their alternate life with the right precautions and tools.