Video game developers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of young players on their platforms. While gaming can be a fun and engaging experience, it can also be a breeding ground for inappropriate behavior, cyberbullying, and online predators.
With over half of children who play video games (including 19 million in the U.S.) encountering cyberbullying or online predators while playing, video game developers must recognize the legitimate safety concerns that exist on their platforms. This includes taking action to implement safety features that can prevent children from being exposed to harmful content, monitoring online interactions between players, and taking swift action against those who violate community standards.
One of the key ways in which developers can help keep kids safe is by implementing and emphasizing parental controls that allow for stricter at-home moderation. Parental controls can be particularly helpful in preventing children from accessing mature content that may not be appropriate for their age. These tools can also allow parents to restrict certain features or actions on a game, such as blocking chat rooms, disabling voice chat, or limiting playtime.
In addition to parental controls, video game developers should also use in-house moderators to monitor the online interactions between players and ensure that all players are following the community rules. Moderators can identify and remove players who engage in inappropriate behavior, such as cyberbullying or harassment. They can also help identify potential predators who may be trying to groom children for harmful purposes or target them for financial scams.
Another crucial safety measure is the use of reporting tools that allow players to report instances of inappropriate behavior or suspected predators. This ability to quickly and effectively report toxic behavior is particularly relevant as these platforms continue to evolve rapidly with new technologies like live streaming which opens up lots of exciting opportunities for gamers but also significant potential for harassment. Working in tandem with their players, developers must investigate these reports and take appropriate action, such as banning players who engage in harmful behavior or reporting potential predators to law enforcement.
Most importantly, video game developers should see these changes not as restrictions on their platforms but as ways to establish greater trust between themselves and their youngest audience. Focusing on better-educating parents and children on how to stay safe while playing video games online, providing resources on how to recognize and report inappropriate behavior, as well as providing guidance on how to protect personal information creates a long-term opportunity to build generational lines of trust between parents and gaming companies. Developers can also take this trust-building a step further by partnering with organizations that specialize in child safety, such as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, to provide additional resources and support.
To ensure the future safety of children on gaming platforms, it’s up to all stakeholders – including game developers, technology solutions companies, parents, and individual gamers – to create a safe environment where everyone can enjoy gaming without fear of harm or abuse. Companies like ours are committed to helping developers, and parents fulfill this responsibility with additional layers of protection for children through Artificial Intelligence-powered software that can monitor gaming interactions and alert parents. We also provide parents with tools to help address these issues as safety concerns arise.
Without aligned action from all stakeholders in the gaming industry taking an active role in ensuring the safety of young gamers, we run the risk of leaving our most vulnerable exposed to threats they can’t easily defend themselves from. By focusing efforts towards implementing parental controls, using moderators, taking swift action against those who violate community standards, educating parents and children on safe online behavior, and partnering with organizations that specialize in child safety, there is an opportunity to make a real difference on this issue.
Together, we can create a safe and enjoyable gaming experience for all players, regardless of their age. There is no doubt that games can be a powerful tool in teaching kids about online safety. It is up to video game developers to harness this power and use it to protect children from the dangers of the online world.