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Gaming - information and guidance around gaming content and in-game chat features

Online gaming is hugely popular with children and young people. Research conducted by OFCOM shows that gaming is still one of the top activities enjoyed by 5-16 year olds online, with many of them gaming via mobile devices and going online using their games console.

Online safety advice applies to online gaming as risks can be present in the game’s content and chat features.

This article is taken from Childnet's advice series, which offers valuable advice about keeping safe online.

For more information on gaming, or other articles, please visit:

What issues and risks are there?

Age ratings

Regulated by PEGI, these show how old you need to be in order to legally buy a game in the UK. PEGI have also created a set of content descriptors which show at a glance what content will be seen in the game and give an indication as to why it received its rating.

Chat features

These allow gamers to communicate with other players. A simple rule for young people when using in-game chat features to talk to others they only know online is to stick to chatting about the game itself. If another player asks for personal information, to meet up in person, or for images and videos, then it’s important for a child to show these messages to a trusted adult. Make sure your child knows this rule and that you are there to help and support them with anything that happens online. This kind of contact from others online can be blocked, reported to the game and reported to CEOP.

Online bullying

This can happen in games as well as on social media or messaging apps. It could be through unkind messages or targeting other players within in a game. Most games have reporting and blocking features which can be used to support a young person who is being cyberbullied.

In-app purchases

These can sometimes be made to get additional features, items, lives or levels. These can be purchased using in-game currency, like robux in Roblox, which is often linked to real money via linked bank cards or online accounts like PayPal. Find out how to turn off or restrict in-app purchases through mobile and console app stores.


This can be a way for players to exchange items or rewards within a game. Some games offer official systems and channels to manage this and ensure everyone involved is held to account. However sometimes players choose to trade unofficially. This can mean that young people agree to exchange items but then are left disappointed when the other player does not uphold their end of the deal. Both official and unofficial trades can also feel unfair, for example when an item is exchanged for something of a far lower value.

Top tips

Read reviews and be aware of the risks

Before a young person buys or downloads a new game, check its rating first to be aware of any potential risks. You can read guidance on Common Sense Media. You can also find out more about PEGI age ratings and content descriptors by visiting Ask About Games.

Explore reporting and blocking features together

Most games will have reporting and blocking tools which a young person can use if anything worries or upsets them within a game. Explore these features together and encourage young people to use them. Always give as much information and context as you can when filling in a report.

Encourage safe choices

Make sure young people know not to share their personal information or anyone else’s when playing online games. This includes whilst chatting within a game or creating profiles. Encourage them to talk to a trusted adult and ask for help if someone is pressuring them to share personal information or if they are asked to meet up in real life. You can report this kind of online communication to CEOP.

Take control of in-app purchases

Purchases need to be carefully managed or a young person could quickly end up spending more money than they had intended to. Find out how to turn off or restrict in-app purchases through The App Store, Google Play or Windows Store.

Establish and support with realistic boundaries

Whilst gaming can be a great way to relax, have fun and engage with others, most games have been specifically designed to ‘hook’ a user in and keep them playing. Try to set fair time limits and make these clear to your child. Avoid interrupting their game and asking them to turn it off straight away, as this may upset them, especially if it means they lose points or progress.

Conversation starters

  1. What do you enjoy about online gaming? What benefits does it have for you?

  2. Do you think online gaming can ever have a negative impact on us?

  3. What happens when you’ve been playing online games for too long? What happens to your body, to your mood, and to your device?

  4. What would you do if something ever worried or annoyed you within a game? How would you support others?

  5. Who could you talk to if you were worried about anything within an online game?


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