Welcome to the exciting online gaming world, where virtual adventures and challenges await. It has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment in recent years. The industry is estimated to be worth over $152 billion worldwide and is expected to grow by 9% in the next five years. As a parent, it’s natural to have concerns about online gaming risks and dangers. This guide is designed to help you understand the potential dangers of online gaming with strangers, arm you with strategies to mitigate these risks, and ensure an online safety and enjoyable gaming experience for yourself and your loved ones.
Online gaming is defined as any video game you and others play and interact with online. The realm of online gaming is a universe of endless possibilities and connections. However, you need to recognize its challenges.
What are the most common online gaming risks?
From cybersecurity threats to gaming addiction, understanding the risks the landscape fosters is important for achieving a responsible online gaming environment. Before we go into more detail to counter these risks, let’s identify the potential dangers of online gaming:
• Cybersecurity threats — Designed to steal personal information including identity theft and more personal and financial data
• Malware and phishing attacks — As with any other online activity, such as clicking on links, online gaming presents the risk of malware infection. Malware and viruses are transmitted through infected downloads, links or even ads, and infect your device without your knowledge. Phishing attacks are where hackers create fake login pages for games or send emails that trick you or your child into entering account login information. If you fall for one of these scams, the hackers can use the information they steal to gain access to your account. Protect your devices and talk to your children about downloads and about staying safe.
• Online scams and frauds — Games in the digital world may involve the exchange of virtual currency or items, which can be subject to scams or fraud. Monitor your child's activity and teach them about online scams and how to protect themselves.
• Gaming addiction — Online gaming presents dangers on a mental level as well. It can be highly addictive and some individuals may develop a compulsion to play that interferes with other aspects of their lives. Set limits on gaming and screen time and monitor your child's behavior to ensure they are not becoming addicted to online gaming.
Cybersecurity threats and risks in online gaming
- Hacking and stealing personal information
- DDoS attacks and server disruptions
- Cyberbullying and harassment
- Identity theft
Engaging in online gaming exposes players to a range of cybersecurity threats. From personal data breaches to identity theft, the risks of online gaming should not be underestimated. Hackers and cybercriminals can exploit vulnerabilities in gaming platforms to gain access to sensitive and personal information, which can have long-lasting consequences for your family's security.
Other online gaming risks and threats come in the form of cyberbullying and harassment or DDoS attacks — the latter of which involves flooding a server with malicious traffic in order to create server disruptions, which can cause emotional distress and other repercussions.
Malware and phishing attacks
Other risks of online gaming come in the form of malware and phishing attacks, which are common tactics cybercriminals use to target online gamers. Malicious software can be disguised as game add-ons or cheats, while phishing attempts often involve fraudulent emails or messages designed to trick players into revealing sensitive information.
Measures to help your loved ones to stay safe when playing games online include:
• Download only from trusted sources — Download game-related software only from reputable sources such as official game stores or developer websites. Avoid third-party websites that may distribute infected files.
• Caution with attachments — Do not to open suspicious attachments or click on links within gaming messages or emails. These could lead to malware installation or phishing sites.
• Educate about phishing — Teach your loved ones to recognize phishing attempts. Legitimate companies will never ask for personal or financial information through unsolicited messages.
• Use antivirus software — Install reputable antivirus software on gaming devices to provide an extra layer of protection against malware.
• Secure backups — Have secure backups to ensure you can always fall back in an emergency.
Online scams and frauds in the gaming industry
- Fake gaming platforms and fraudulent game purchases
- Virtual currency scams and gambling pitfalls
- Untrustworthy in-game trades and transactions
The gaming industry is not immune to online scams and frauds. Players may encounter fake in-game purchases, fraudulent giveaways, or trading scams that promise rare items or rewards but deliver disappointment instead.
Steps to be taken for protection from online gaming risks and dangers
• Be cautious of unrealistic offers — If an offer seems too good to be true it’s probably a scam. Scammers often use the allure of exclusive items or quick rewards to deceive players.
• Research in-game purchases — Thoroughly research in-game purchases. Make sure they are from official sources and not from third-party sellers that may be offering counterfeit or illegitimate items.
• Teach safe trading practices — When engaging in in-game trading, there are risks involved. Use platforms or systems to prevent scams and stay safe.
• Communication — Keep the lines of communication open with your loved ones. Encourage them to share their online gaming experiences and any suspicious interactions they encounter.
Gaming addiction and its repercussions
Gaming addiction is an increasingly common issue as more and more people become immersed in online gaming. Gaming addiction can be considered a mental health concern, as excessive gaming can lead to isolating behavior, withdrawal from social activities, and other issues. Some signs and symptoms include neglecting responsibilities and an excessive preoccupation with gaming. Gaming addiction can also have a negative impact on one’s physical and mental health, as well as their relationships with family and friends. Therefore, discuss the dangers with your loved ones.
Coping with online gaming risks
Fortunately, there are steps that gamers can take to protect themselves from these various online gaming risks and dangers. Protect your personal information and secure your accounts by using strong passwords and two-factor authentication. Also, identify and avoid fake gaming platforms and scams by researching websites and platforms before purchasing. You should also establish healthy gaming habits, such as setting time limits and recognizing any signs of gaming addiction. If this addiction is becoming a concern, seek professional help.
Tips for safe online gaming
- Choosing reputable gaming platforms and websites
- Safeguarding personal information and practicing cybersecurity with special software
- Promoting good online behavior and reporting abusive players
- Communicating openly with parents, guardians, or trusted adults
- Use trusted cybersecurity software that helps you prevent potential cyber attacks and alerts you when it detects any threats.
There are several steps that gamers can take to stay safe while playing online. Choose reputable gaming platforms and websites by researching each platform to ensure it is legitimate. When creating accounts, safeguard your personal information by using strong passwords and two-factor authentication. Promote good online behavior by avoiding abusive language and reporting players engaging in harassment or bullying. And finally, it is important to communicate openly with parents, guardians, or trusted adults about any concerns or risks associated with online gaming.
Along with these several important steps, a cyber protection solution is also needed to stay safe whilst gaming online. We recommend Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office with secure backup and Active Protection to protect yourself against viruses, ransomware, and more, as well as to ensure your loved ones are safe, your personal data is secure, and only you can access it.
Most Frequently Asked Questions About Online Gaming Risks
1. What are the risks of online gaming?
a. Online gaming comes with potential risks such as cyberbullying, addiction, loss of personal information, interaction with online predators, and exposure to inappropriate content.
2. Is online gaming safe?
a. Online gaming can be safe if the players take appropriate precautions, follow the community guidelines, and practice responsible behavior.
3. Are there any guidelines to follow to ensure safe online gaming — especially when interacting with unknown players?
a. Avoid sharing personal information; you should use a nickname or gaming handle instead. It is always important to be cautious and to report inappropriate behavior.
4. What kind of personal information is at risk when engaging in online gaming, and how can players safeguard it?
a. Personal information that can be at risk are real names, addresses, locations, school names, phone numbers, and any other identifiable information. It can be safeguarded by adjusting privacy settings, using an alias, avoiding voice chat, and being cautious.
Online gaming can be a fun activity, but be aware of the potential risks associated with it. Cyberthreats such as hacking, malware, and phishing attacks can lead to the theft of personal information and financial loss. Online scams and frauds can also be risky, as gamers can be tricked into purchasing fake or duplicate versions of games. Gaming addiction is another issue affecting gamers, as excessive playing can lead to isolating behavior and other issues. Fortunately, gamers can stay safe by following simple steps such as protecting personal information, choosing reputable gaming platforms, and establishing healthy gaming habits. By staying vigilant and informed, gamers can enjoy online gaming responsibly and safely.
Get Acronis Cyber Protect Home office today and make sure your kids are stay safe online!
Acronis is a Swiss company, founded in Singapore. Celebrating two decades of innovation, Acronis has more than 1,800 employees in 45 locations. The Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud solution is available in 26 languages in over 150 countries and is used by 20,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.