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Online gaming is incredibly popular with young people – gaming consoles, along with multiplayer platforms such as Twitch and Discord are a staple in many kids’ lives, to entertain, interact and collaborate with players all over the globe.

The online gaming landscape is constantly shifting. The latest consoles are more connected than ever before, live streaming and gameplay recording are on the rise, and there’s a shift from screens to physical play using immersive technology that integrates with online games.

Online gaming can facilitate many positive experiences for young people including the opportunity to master new skills, feel excitement and a sense of achievement, be creative, find community and express themselves freely. However, it’s important to be aware of some of the potential risks.

Age guide

While gaming consoles themselves do not have a recommended age range, it’s wise to check the classification, a review site and The eSafety Guide to see if a game is suitable for your kids.

Games and associated apps commonly used by gamers to communicate, share content or be part of a community group will have recommended age ranges.

What to look out for

  • Most modern gaming consoles can be connected to the internet. A feature to be aware of in the latest consoles is that they are always connected to the internet.
  • The gaming world is expanding beyond screens, with the lines between digital and physical games blurring. Whether it’s merchandise that interacts with games or games that encourage physical movement through immersive technology like VR headsets. This can promote physical play; however, always be mindful of the purpose of the physical components before purchasing. 
  • Live streaming and game recording has surged in popularity among young gamers. Gaming companies are selling 'streaming kits', which include a microphone, webcam, LED light and capture card. One thing to be mindful of is that platforms like Twitch and YouTube are public, so encourage age-appropriate usage, which includes private or friends-only options for streaming.
  • Online multiplayer games connect players of all ages across the globe. Adults play a variety of games including children’s games. It’s important to be aware that anyone can chat with your children while playing these games.
  • Most games carry a classification and each game will have warnings about the themes, violence and/or coarse language to which your children may be exposed. When playing games online, there’s also a chance that children may see inappropriate behaviour from others in the online community. Make sure you read reviews and watch some gameplay before deciding which games are appropriate (or not) for your children.

How to stay safe

  • Many gaming consoles come with built-in parental controls that enable parents to decide what content their children can access and which functions they are able to use. Parental controls should be reviewed regularly.
  • While parental controls help us limit content or risky features, as children get older it’s important to teach children how to make the most of user controls and help them build key skills to navigate risks or tricky situations online.
  • Games that are available for purchase and download in Australia have a classification rating that provides a recommended age limit for players. On the Australian Classification Board website you can search for a game to get a better understanding of the different types of content that it may contain.
  • Most games have functionality that allows you to mute, block or report other users who are behaving in an aggressive or antisocial way. Make sure you are aware of how to do this for each game your child is playing. You can find reporting links for most games and apps in The eSafety Guide.
  • Establish rules with your children around their gaming habits including screen time limits and sharing personal information.
  • Get involved – play the game yourself!
  • Remain engaged in your child’s online lives and let them know you’ll be there to support them if something goes wrong. 
  • Be careful of saving credit card information on the console and of in-game transactions.  
  • If your child wants to stream, the best thing you can do is get actively involved and help them do it safely. If your child wants to watch streaming, you can see who they follow and watch how the community interacts to see if there’s any unsafe behaviour. 

Last updated: 15/11/2023