A Parent’s Guide to Online Gaming Toxicity

Gaming today is very different than it was back in the time of arcades and the first home consoles. Players back then competed and met locally in places like arcades. Today, MMOs are the norm and players have total access to each other. Features like matchmaking, chats, and friends lists keep players connected and interacting every time they play. But, with that comes the unfortunate issue of online gaming toxicity.

Although developing relationships with others is a great benefit to come from online gaming, there comes an almost unavoidable negative. Online gaming toxicity is an issue that’s been frequently plaguing the online gaming community and creating a problem for parents. We at Gamercraft have put together a helpful guide to help mitigate online gaming toxicity.

A Parent’s Guide to Online Gaming Toxicity

1) Educate Young Players About Online Gaming Toxicity

Recognizing when a community surrounding a game is toxic is an essential first step to combating it. We suggest that parents sit down with their kids and teach them how to recognize signs of online gaming toxicity. Toxic players will become aggressive, say derogatory terms, swear, and insult others. It’s never a bad idea to monitor your child through a few matches to make sure they recognize the signs of online gaming toxicity.

2) Research Online Games and Their Communities

Luckily, finding information about a game and the community surrounding it is easier than ever. Before letting your child start matchmaking and joining other players online, make sure you research the game they want to play and look for recent articles or critic takes related to cyberbullying or toxicity.

You should also always make sure that your child is mature and old enough to play certain games online. MMOs like Call of Duty and Rainbow Six Siege contain a lot of violence and graphic content. Combine that with intense gameplay and you’re likely to find a few toxic players in the mix. Even a game as seemingly innocent as Minecraft host many aggressive players. As a parent you should research the game before purchasing it for your child.

A Parent’s Guide to Online Gaming Toxicity

3) Teach Your Young Player How to Deal with Online Gaming Toxicity

Unfortunately online gaming toxicity is something that occurs all too frequently. Your child will likely come across a situation or two where they’re either targeted by or a witness to toxic behavior. It helps to teach your kids how to deal with situations of online gaming toxicity head on.

The best thing for players to do is to not engage with those who are being toxic and aggressive. If they’re targeted by another player, they should leave the match and find a new one to join rather than stick it out. Players can always use the mute and report functions if they prefer to stay.

4) Hold Developers Accountable

Game developers don’t create games with the intent to introduce a platform for online gaming toxicity. But it’s a consequence that all companies should be aware of and be ready to deal with. Some organizations are quicker to crackdown on toxic behavior than others and some don’t act at all. It’s easy to report a player while in-game, but one has to wonder how seriously those queries are taken. Developers are the sole controllers of allowing this type of behavior and have the capability and power to combat it.

Take Xbox, for example, and their dedication to fighting online gaming toxicity. Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, published an extensive essay ahead of this year’s E3 conference. He explains that “Xbox Live is not a free speech platform” and that players are not allowed to say whatever they want whenever they want. Action, or lack thereof, speaks volumes about who develops the games your kids play and you should hold them accountable.

5) Make Sure Your Young Players Aren’t the Problem

It’s easy to think that your children won’t behave poorly while playing online, but let’s face it. People get angry and frustrated. They say things they shouldn’t and hurt others. We recommend that you keep an eye on your kids while playing to see how they behave. If you notice toxic behavior help them understand why it isn’t okay and how they should correct it.

The world is connected now more than ever, and online gaming is one of the most obvious examples of that. It’s helped create friendships and foster teamwork, but it’s also lead to a negative culture of online gaming toxicity. As parents we should always strive to keep them safe as they enjoy their favorite games online.

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