Participate in respectful gameplay, and use in-app functions if players are being mean to you or making you feel uncomfortable
Being abused or criticised shouldn’t be a normal part of your gaming life. Setting up a respectful environment for your gameplay can make sure everyone is having a more positive experience online. For example, if a friend is getting mean comments from someone unknown during a game, you could try encouraging them to improve their skills by giving them tips. You can also use the ‘mute’ button or settings in your game to get a break from someone who’s annoying you, or if things are getting out of hand you can report the other person in-app and block them.
It's common to make new friends while gaming, but make sure you’re careful about how well you really know your ‘online friends’.
Remember, it’s easy for people to lie online, and in some cases they can trick you into a dangerous relationship or scam you.
Learn more about unwanted and unsafe contact.
Report poor behaviour and abuse to the platform
The gaming platforms have a responsibility to ensure your safety. If the abuse is starting to feel harmful, collect evidence so you have proof – this can include screenshots or recordings of the abusive comments.
Then you can report the player in-app – you can find how to do this on common gaming platforms in The eSafety Guide. If you don’t hear back from the platform, you can ask eSafety for help to remove serious cyberbullying content (for under 18s) or adult cyber abuse (for 18 or older).
Be aware of game classifications and age restrictions
It’s important to remember online multiplayer games and streaming platforms connect people of all ages. This means that adults and children can mix, chat and have experiences together – and sometimes that’s not appropriate, safe or supportive for gamers who are younger or less experienced. Be aware they may also see bad behaviour from you while they are watching you play, then copy that in their own gaming.
While gaming consoles don’t have a recommended age range, most games and platforms carry a classification and each game should have a warning about the themes, violence and/or coarse language you may be exposed to. You can check the classification, review the site and explore The eSafety Guide to see if a game or platform is suitable to your interests and age. If you have children in your care, it’s also a good idea to watch some gameplay before deciding which games are appropriate (or not) for them.
Keep personal details private
Try choosing usernames based on your interests or personality rather than something with your name, birthday or location in it – this type of data is your ‘personally identifiable information’. If you share too much of this information online, it might be used inappropriately by other people and put you at risk of different online harms, such as:
- adult cyber abuse
- identity theft
- doxing (this when someone shares your personally identifiable information without your consent, on purpose)
- swatting (when someone reports a false crime or emergency to get a large number of emergency service responders to your address).
You can read online safety advice for popular games, including voice and text chat apps used while gaming in The eSafety Guide.
Manage your in-app purchasing and game memberships
Most gaming consoles, such as Nintendo Switch, Xbox and PlayStation offer memberships to their online communities. These memberships work like a subscription and are usually paid for every month or year. Having a membership lets users access extra features, free games and the ability to play in exclusive communities.
There are also virtual stores and currencies, which are popular in different types of games. Many gaming platforms have wallets where players can add funds directly or via gift cards. The money can be spent on games or in-game add-ons such as new features, clothes, equipment or ‘skins’.
These memberships, virtual stores and other in-app purchasing options range in price and features so it’s important to do your research before deciding which option is right for you. There may also be age-related conditions that need to be met to activate a membership or purchase, depending on how the account is set up.
Games often encourage people to spend more money. Some games are set up on purpose to be more difficult and unenjoyable unless you pay for extra features.
It can also be hard to tell how much is spent, because in-game currency is not easy to convert in your head. Each purchase may be small on its own, but if you keep buying things it can very quickly add up to a lot of money on the linked credit card.
Learn more about in-app purchasing and check out The eSafety Guide for more information about gaming memberships and other in-game purchasing.