If your kids play video games, then chances are very good that they have at least asked you to play a game online. Online games like Fortnite and Call of Duty are HUGE. The entire video game industry has slowly been shifting its focus towards multiplayer-centric video games. No matter how much you want to avoid it, your kids will inevitably end up in a competitive online game. 

We have to prepare our kids for these competitive environments the same way we prepare them for the little league field. These online spaces are no less real than playgrounds and playing fields. 

The online gaming landscape is pretty toxic right now. So many players exhibit poor sportsmanship and lash out at other players when even the slightest thing goes wrong. It has gotten to the point where many players (myself included) won’t use voice chat unless playing with a group of people they have known for a long time. 

We would never accept a situation like that on the ball field. Could you imagine a team full of kids that talks so much trash that three quarters of the team wore earplugs? How would they even play?

Here are some actionable steps to help your kids treat the playground and the online lobby with the same amount of respect (and make the play experience better for everyone involved). 

  • Talk to your kids about digital sportsmanship. This is the first step for everything. Let them know that you are aware of the spaces they play in. Encourage them to exhibit good sportsmanship and to avoid mirroring other players’ bad behaviors. 
  • Be present. A lot of these bad behaviors are practiced by kids who are playing their games in private spaces. You can combat this by moving gaming spaces into the shared parts in your home, or joining them to watch (and listen) to them play. 
  • Speak up! If you hear your child saying something inappropriate during a gaming session (or even ABOUT a gaming session), then you have to speak up immediately. Let them know that what they said was wrong or hurtful and why. 
  • Draw the connection. A lot of kids don’t see digital gaming spaces the same as real ones. They don’t see the need to use similar behaviors. It’s up to us as parents to help make that connection for them. 

Do you and your family have any experience with online gaming? How do you help keep your kids from exhibiting (or experiencing) bad behavior online? Let me know in the comments!

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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By Stephen Duetzmann

Editor in Chief Founder/EiC EngagedFamilyGaming.com Blogger, Podcaster, Video Host RE: games that families can play together. Editor@engagedfamilygaming.com

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