Online Sense is ICDL Arabia's philanthropic arm aimed at raising public awareness on Cyber Safety.

Do You Like Online Gaming? What’s Your Favorite Game?

Online gaming can be lots of fun. It’s certainly a good way to relieve stress or make your day a little less boring when you’re at home. Whether you’re alone or with your friends, it’s pretty cool to compete against people from every corner of the world.

However, as fun as online gaming can be, the ‘online’ factor can expose you to dangers, including cyber bullying, online harassment and online predators. This is especially true if you are an avid online gamer and play against people you’ve never met in person.

This means that you need to know what to do whenever you are facing a bad situation.

Here are 5 things you can do to stay safe when gaming online:

1. Do Not Expose Your True Identity

First and foremost, it is very important to protect your identity any time you’re online (whether you’re gaming or not). When you are creating an account, make sure you stay anonymous or use a nickname that doesn’t reveal your real name. In addition, that your avatar should not be a real picture of you. If you are playing with a username that has your first and/or last name, it is easier for someone to identify you… and eventually harass you.

2. Do Not Give Out Any Personal Information

This seems so obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people your age give out their personal information online. Do not, under any circumstances, reveal any personal information to the online community. This includes obvious things like phone numbers and addresses, but it also includes little things like age. A lot of adults meet teenagers online, pretend to be people your age and talk with you until you feel safe talking to them about personal stuff.

(It could be as simple as asking you what your favorite game is – like what you read in beginning of this article – and then pretending to like it as well just to make you believe that there is a trustworthy individual on the other side of the screen.)

When in doubt about sharing something, ask a responsible adult like a parent or a teacher.

3. Hit the Mute Button

In games with voice chat components, make sure that your game setting are set to mute conversations. When playing a game online, people may say things that could hurt one another. It’s best to prevent the risk of bullying or trash talking online.

If you aren’t using a microphone and are typing to one another instead…

4. Block the Player

If a situation makes you uncomfortable, you can always block the person playing with you. Reporting abuse is becoming more effective, as gaming manufacturers are now making sure that you have a safe online environment to play in.

If you are getting multiple accounts writing inappropriate content, talk to your parents immediately about the problem before the situation gets worse.

5. Be Aware of What Parental Controls Can Do for You

Speaking of parents, it’s good to take advantage of the many safety settings available on gaming systems. This is a great opportunity to talk to parents about how parental controls work on gaming consoles and why the settings are the way they are.

It helps when your parents take as much interest in your online gaming as you do. You might not be an expert yet (and they probably aren’t either), but at least having a conversation with them and listening to what they have to say about the dangers of online gaming can help you work towards an effective solution together.