14-18 year olds

Young people aged 14-18 are typically very active users of the internet and online gaming can still form a large part of their online activity. Games can be a positive way for young people to develop key skills that can help them in other areas of their life, such as collaboration, problem solving and strategic thinking. They are also a great way for young people to get creative and develop their own online environments whilst engaging with others. However, games which have higher age ratings will carry with them more graphic content which could include scenes of violence, drug abuse, sex and discrimination. 

When it comes to supporting young people aged 14-18 with online gaming we need to empower them to make choices which are right for them and will make their online lives purposeful, positive and inspiring. 

6 top tips for supporting children aged 14-18 online

  1. Read reviews and be aware of the risks - Before a young person downloads a new game try to check the ratings within the app store first to be aware of any potential risks. You can read full reviews on Common Sense Media - which offers advice on what to expect within a game and key advice for parents and carers. You can also find out more about PEGI age ratings and content descriptors by visiting Ask About Games
  2. Model responsible and healthy use of technology - It is important to show young people a good example of how to maintain a positive relationship with technology. This could be by setting aside time to be technology free or even to engage with it as a family. You could try setting up gaming nights where you all compete together. This could be a great way to get a conversation started about online gaming and allow your child to share their expertise. 
  3. Keep an open dialogue - As a family, discuss how playing games online can make you feel. Think about how you know that you have been online for too long, e.g. considering physical, emotional and device-level factors, such as headaches, feeling grumpy, and device batteries running low. Make sure your child knows what to do if something is worrying or upsetting them online, such as pressing the report or block buttons and telling a trusted adult. 
  4. Take control of in-app purchases - Most games now have in-app purchases which allow players to spend real or in-game money on things like extra lives or tools to complete a tricky level. These purchases need to be carefully managed or a young person could quickly end up spending more money than they had intended to. Find out how to turn off or restrict in-app purchases through The App Store, Google Play or Windows Store. 
  5. Sign post to appropriate support -  It's important that young people know who they can turn to for support; whether this is a trusted adult at home or school or by contacting a helpline. Visit our 'Need help?' page for young people for further advice, support and suggested helplines. 
  6. Stay informed - It's important that you know what to do, or where to go for help if your child does need help with something that is worrying or upsetting them online. Visit our 'Need help?' page for parents and carers for more advice, support and reporting routes.  

Conversation starter ideas

A simple and effective way to get involved in your child's online life is through discussion. An open dialogue is the best way to help your child access the amazing resources the internet has to offer whilst keeping them safe online. 

  1. When could the content within online games positively or negatively affect our wellbeing?
  2. How do you know if a game is having a positive or negative impact on you? How do you manage this?
  3. Do you think we generally have more positive or negative experiences whilst gaming online?
  4. How would you support someone you thought was having a difficult time within an online game?
  5. Who could you talk to if you, or someone you knew, was having a difficult time within an online game?