Gamingvideo game controller image

Did You Know?

72% of teens, both male and female (ages 13-17) play video games. More than half of these teens have made new friends online, with over a third saying they met friends while playing video games online.

Lenhart, A., Smith, A.., Anderson, M., Duggan, M., Perrin, A., “Teens, Technology and Friendships.” Pew Research Center, August, 2015.

What you need to know about online gaming

Online gaming may be better for children than you think

Many parents have mixed feelings about children playing online and app-based games. They’ve heard of the risks—such as exposure to inappropriate content—but they’ve also heard of the benefits. Online gaming can help children develop their creativity and problem-solving abilities. It can also give them the chance to make new friends and practice other social skills. Plus, it’s fun!  So how can you help children get the most out of online gaming?

Learn the risks and how to handle them

It can be hard for adults to supervise online gaming. There are thousands of online games and apps, making it hard to know exactly what children are playing. In addition, children can play from anywhere thanks to mobile gaming devices, smartphones and tablets.  

Games can also have confusing or inappropriate content for children. Some have adult language or are violent or sexual. Others have advertisements that let children make purchases without parental authorization. Children have spent hundreds of dollars on in-game merchandise.

Children, especially young children, who click these ads may not know they’re spending real money.

Many online games have features that allow players to talk or IM with each other. Some of these players may:

  • Gather sensitive information like passwords and credit card numbers by scamming children or hacking directly into their accounts.  
  • Have sexual conversations, request sexual images or, more rarely, ask children to meet offline. They may even try to get children to share sexual images by sharing their own images first.   

What can I do?

Use these tips to help children game more safely online.

  • Know what games children are playing. Ratings sites like and can help you decide if a game is appropriate. 
  • Learn how to use the safety features. For example, does the game have reporting features or moderators? Can players be blocked?
  • Ask with whom children are gaming. Learn the usernames of anyone your children play with frequently.
  • Discuss what information children are sharing. Tell them not to share personal information like credit card and phone numbers
  • Know where children are gaming. You may be supervising your home console, but where else are children gaming? Do they play on mobile devices? At friends’ homes?

Start the Conversation!

Talk to children and teens about online gaming.

  • Can I play this game with you?
  • Have you ever been cyberbullied while gaming? What did you do?
  • Do you know what information is OK to share about yourself while gaming?
  • Who do you play online games with?  
  • Has anyone talked about sex while you were gaming or asked you to send pictures of yourself?