Most gaming consoles, such as Nintendo Switch, Xbox 360 and Xbox One X, offer memberships to their online communities. These memberships work like a subscription and tend to be on a monthly or annual basis. Membership provides users with access to additional features, free games and the ability to play in exclusive communities.
Memberships range in price and features so it’s important to do your research before deciding which option is right for your children.
Gaming memberships do not have a recommended age range, however there may be age-related conditions attached to the account, required to activate the membership. This will vary between platforms and will be outlined in the end-user agreement.
It is also wise to check the classification, a review site and The eSafety Guide to see if a game is suitable for your kids.
What to look out for
- Membership levels and prices vary. Information about the requirements for each subscription will be in the Terms and Conditions for each subscription.
- Some memberships rely on regular debits from a credit card or bank account and require the users to give notice to end the subscription. Be cautious and consider buying these subscriptions via a membership gift card instead.
- Massive multiplayer online games are available by subscription and new, free games are available monthly. These may or may not be appropriate for your child, so do your research to ensure that they are suitable.
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 that they are able to use.
- Many consoles will allow multiple-user accounts. Ensure your child only uses the account set up for them to make sure that your chosen parental controls are in place. This will safeguard them against viewing content intended for adult users in the family.
- Most games have functionality that allows you to 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.
- Establish rules with your children around gaming use including time limits and personal information shared.
- 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 online.