3-7 year olds
Children are engaging with technology from a very young age and online gaming is often a popular choice for this age group. Online games allow children to play along with their favourite characters, explore fictional worlds and complete challenges or puzzles. When games are introduced as part of a healthy and active lifestyle, for a child they can provide opportunities for exploring, creativity and team work. However, it is important to be aware of the risks posed by online gaming and establish healthy habits early on.
How often are children aged 3-7 playing online games?
OFCOM, the UK regulator for communications services, publishes an annual review into the media use and attitudes of children and parents which looks into the media access of young children aged 3-4 as well as the general understanding of children aged 5-15.
In 2018 their report found that:
5 top tips for supporting children aged 3-7 online
- Check age ratings first - Most games have an age rating from PEGI which are displayed on the packaging of the game or within some app stores. These are there to help you and your child to choose age appropriate games. You can also proactively search for age appropriate games and apps on Common Sense Media.
- Supervise game play - It is a good idea to supervise young children's use of the internet and technology. Try to get devices in family spaces where you are able to see the games that your child is playing, and you are there to support them if anything worries or upsets them.
- Play games together - A great way of getting to know the content within a game is to play it together as a family. You could play a new game together for the first time or ask your child to show you how to play their favourite game. This is also a great opportunity to model safe and responsible game play to children.
- Establish good habits early on - If your child is interested in online gaming at a young age then this is a good opportunity to manage the amount of time spent online, and establish a healthy balance of online and offline activities. Establishing these boundaries and routines at an early age is beneficial for children as they grow up and engage with technology further.
- Be aware of in-game features - Games can have different features within them and it's a good idea to explore these and make use of any safety settings. Look out for parental controls, reporting and blocking buttons and in-app purchases. Find out how to turn off or restrict in-app purchases through The App Store, Google Play or Windows Store.
Conversation starter ideas
A simple and effective way to support your child with online gaming is through discussion - an open dialogue is the best way to help your child access the amazing games the internet has to offer whilst keeping them safe at the same time.
- What is your favourite game to play online?
- What things make you happy when playing online games?
- What things make you unhappy/angry/sad when playing online games?
- When and where do you most enjoy playing your favourite games?
- Who can help you if something worries or upsets you in a game?