Online Safety with Gaming Applications – How To’s and Helpful Links

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Banner_family Lately I’ve been receiving a lot of great feedback relating to the blog I posted in November about online-gaming safety. I’m glad to see that other organizations, such as, are getting the word out there about protecting our children in these online environments.

We shouldn’t forget that the internet isn’t the only thing out there that our children are interacting with on a daily basis. Online applications such as Xbox Live are becoming more and more popular among our children—Xbox Live already has a user base of more than 20 million—this number consists of adults and children.

Xbox Live is very similar to a social network in that children and adults who are Xbox Live members are able to interact without much restriction. Messages can be sent (text, voice, video, images) and private chats can be requested by anyone. Additionally, there has been a recent integration of Facebook and Twitter apps on Xbox Live, this allows the user to access their profiles through the Xbox Live dashboard—unfortunately, this doesn’t make protecting your child’s online safety any easier.

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These methods of communication create an open window to problems such as cyberbullying, stalking, and harassment, just as social networks like Facebook and MySpace do. However, just like social networks, Xbox Live has some security features—probably better than said networks. Needless to say, your account is only as secure as you make it.

Parents can set up an Xbox Live accounts with their children present, just go to Family Settings and set up some boundaries:

  1. Establish who can see your child’s profile on Xbox Live. This restricts random strangers, more specifically adults, from seeing the games your child plays as well as their personal information i.e. bio, status, name, and location.
  2. You can also limit communication so that your child is only allowed to communicate with people on their friends list. This includes sending and receiving text, voice, and chatting services.
  3. The content that your child can see or download on Xbox Live’s Marketplace (demos, videos, games) can also be limited in the Family Settings.

If all else fails and your child still encounters harassment of some sort, you can directly “block communication” from any Xbox Live user via the settings in your child’s account.

Here’s a link to more, very useful information about Xbox Live Safety courtesy of Get Game Smart.

And a link to Microsoft’s tips and procedures to safely set up your child’s Live account.

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