The world of gamers has seen a boom in recent years, thanks to advancements in technology. As of 2020, it was estimated there were 2.69 billion active gamers in the world – many of them playing online.
Despite some negative stereotypes, there are actually many benefits to online gaming. It’s a great way to boost social skills, reduce stress, improve problem-solving skills, and can even help with general mental wellness.
But, whenever you’re entering any kind of information online, your safety should be a priority. It’s not just the players on the screen that might want to do you harm. Real enemies could be out there, and your personal information isn’t a game.
If you’re an avid online gamer and you don’t want to give up your multi-player passion, what can you do to keep your data private? If you’re a parent, how can you make sure your child/teenager knows how to stay safe, too?
Here’s How Online Gamers Can Protect Their Personal Information
You don’t have to be internet-savvy to recognize a scam when you see one. Whether an offer seems too good to be true, an email doesn’t seem legitimate, or a site asking for your personal information isn’t secure, it’s become easier than ever to spot scams that are trying to steal your information.
But, it can happen in the gaming world, too, especially through techniques like phishing, social scams from other players, and sketchy downloads/extras that are supposed to be “necessary” for gameplay. If you’re actively involved in a game, you might be less likely to notice some of those red flags. Unfortunately, all it takes is one mistake for your data to be exposed online.
So, what can you do to protect yourself and your data? Try some of the following:
- Keep your applications updated
- Update passwords frequently
- Use a VPN
- Don’t visit unverified sites
- Make purchases from credible vendors
By employing some of these strategies, you can keep yourself safer while playing online. But, in a gaming community, things can go beyond downloads and site upgrades. One of the reasons people love online gaming is the connection it provides.
Unfortunately, some of those connections aren’t as “friendly” as they might seem.
It’s Okay to Be Suspicious
As the old saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. That includes friendships and partnerships through gaming platforms. While it’s okay to meet people and make friends on your favourite game, it’s also okay to be a bit hesitant – and even suspicious.
Listen to your gut and look out for any red flags that might come up if a specific gamer keeps trying to connect with you. Read their reviews, avoid file-sharing, and dig deep to find out as much about them as possible.
If you don’t want to do your research, one of the easiest ways to avoid someone stealing your information is to “go undercover”. Don’t share your personal information on your profiles or with the people in the game. You can use a made-up name and other information, and you won’t have to worry about anyone stealing what’s truly important. Unless you have a specific goal of meeting people and developing friendships through video games, there is no harm in using an alias to keep yourself safe.
Keep Your Kids Safe
More than 90% of American children play video games. Depending on how young they are, they might not automatically recognize the dangers that can come with online gaming.
As a parent, you might already be concerned about your child’s risks with online gaming, including connecting with predators or people intending to do harm. But, your privacy and data may also be at risk unless your kids know how to stay safe.
You should be monitoring your child/teen’s online activity in every way, including:
- Tracking their online behaviour
- Limiting access
- Familiarizing yourself with different social media sites
When it comes to gaming, educate them as much as possible on the risks. You don’t want your kid, or especially your teen, to feel “limited” in what they can do online, because they might try to find loopholes and break boundaries, anyway. Instead, take an informative approach. Some easy tips include:
- Voicing your concerns about privacy
- Utilizing strong passwords for your children’s accounts
- Teaching them how to be aware of strangers online
- Recognizing clickbait or scams
- Being a good data privacy role model
Keeping yourself and your family safe from online scammers isn’t always easy, especially in the world of online gaming. It’s easy to get distracted by having fun or getting lost in a virtual world. So, you might let your guard down easier than you would if you were just browsing online or checking emails.
By doing your research, remaining diligent, and understanding the privacy risks associated with online gaming, you’ll have an easier time protecting your information and avoiding becoming a cybercrime statistic.
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