15 'life-saving' questions to ask your child if they’re online gaming - plus 5 expert tips for keeping your kids safe

If you can't stop your teenagers from online gaming, at least arm yourself with these questions to help keep them safe

Teenager online gaming in bedroom
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With more young people gaming than ever before, it's no surprise that parents are looking for ways to engage with their children. An expert has shared three 'life-saving' questions parents should ask their children if they're online gaming and five tips to help keep them safe online.

Paw Patrol is one of the 10 kids' apps that are 'spying' on users with parents even more concerned about ways of keeping kids safe online while trying to find ways of reducing screen time. But it can often feel like a losing battle, however, don't fear, as there's another way you can protect your child - and it doesn't involve locking up their devices.

Around 2.38 million game consoles were sold in the UK during 2023 - almost a 10 per cent increase on the previous year - with 88 per cent of young adults (aged 16-24) reported to play video games and 29 per cent of those playing online with people they don’t know outside of the Internet.

However, children are now getting into gaming from a younger age, with a reported 91 per cent of children (aged three to 15) playing video games, so online safety has never been more important. Communication platforms like Discord can connect you with anyone from all over the world, and clicking a link alone can result in personal information being harvested, leading to financial loss, or even identity theft. And let's not forget the increased exposure to threats including malware, trojans, and viruses.

Cyber safety experts at Norton, have given us their top five tips and the questions parents should be asking their kids, to open up the conversation and game safely online, and #2 could actually save a life.

5 tips for ensuring safer online gaming

1. Understand the Games

Get to know the games your children are playing. Not all games pose the same risks, and some may have built-in safety features, so be aware of the game's content and the potential risks associated with it.

Questions to ask: Are there loot boxes which require real money to be spent for cosmetics or upgrades in-game? Do hacks or cheats exist for the game?

2. Open Communication

Be an encouraging, listening ear. Initiate conversations about online safety where relevant and discuss the importance of keeping personal information private, especially when interacting with strangers online.

Questions to ask: What kinds of things do you usually talk about? Have you ever been asked any personal questions, like where you go to school, or how old you are? Did you know that anything you share on the Internet stays there forever?  

3. Use Parental Controls

Get yourself some built-in backup. Take advantage of parental controls These can help monitor and limit online interactions, as well as manage screen time. Norton has a specialised version of their 360 software, which was designed with gamers in mind. With the addition of Dark Web Monitoring, you’ll be able to check if your child’s Gamertag, usernames and/or email address are compromised.

Questions to ask: How do you feel about the screen time limits we’ve set? Do you think they’re fair, or should we discuss adjusting it? Do you understand why it’s important to keep your personal information, like your full name, address, and school, safe?

online parental controls

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. Stay Updated

The gaming industry is ever-evolving, and so are the potential risks associated with it. Stay alert to current trends and updates in the gaming world. This can include new game releases, updates (also called “patches”) to existing games, and changes in online community guidelines.

Questions to ask: Do you watch any streamers? What games are popular among your friends right now? Is there a new game you’re interested in?

5. Promote Healthy Gaming Habits

Let’s not condemn our budding gamers for having an indoor hobby. Encourage a balance between gaming and other activities and set limits on gaming time to prevent too much play. Do encourage participation in other hobbies and physical activities. Help your children to utilise the skills they may learn from playing online games in real life. GoodtoKnow recently reported gameshow host Stephen Mulhern on why board games are better than computer games (and how you can get your kids to make the swap)

Questions to ask: What have you learned from your time gaming today? Did you play in a team? Did you go through anything challenging? Was any part of it frustrating?

Awareness and understanding of the risks of gaming are key to ensuring a safe and enjoyable gaming environment for children in the new year, without taking away from their experience.

In other family news, want your teen gamer to sleep better? Here are 6 expert tips to ensure the screen isn’t keeping them awake all night (and #3 is so worth it) and 'Are you even listening to me?' If it feels like your teenager is tuning you out, they probably are, but research proves it’s not personal, just science.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)