Families across the nation have video game consoles in their home. 82% of global consumers played video games and watched video game content during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. While video games are a popular pastime, they are also a potential security threat. Did you know a video game console can put your family’s privacy at risk just as easily as a smartphone or smart TV? Here’s the rundown on how it works and what you can do to protect your children.
Video game consoles connect to the internet
When you connect that console to the internet, you can consider it as just another portal to the World Wide Web—like your phone or tablet. Video games allow users to virtually meet and play with each other, buy in-game gadgets, and otherwise amp up their playing experience. But many of the risks of internet use come with the territory:
- Connecting your console to your home Wi-Fi can give hackers an entrance into your home network.
- Video games can store your personal data and payment information. This is great news to a hacker or identity thief!
- Consoles on the internet can expose your IP address, meaning a cybercriminal or even an unhappy game player can target your address for nefarious purposes.
- Phishing scams and social engineering schemes can steal passwords, usernames and other important credentials from users.
Cyberbullying is a common problem in video game environments
When your child’s game console connects to the internet, your child is really at the mercy of the other players. They can make great friends; or they can become the victim of online bullies. You should know how to identify the signs of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullies can antagonize your child by purposely keeping them from winning, or by taking steps to ensure that they die in the game. Bullies can target your child with harmful personal messages in chat forums. They can also spread nasty comments about your child via chat channels for others to see.
Help your child fight cyberbullies
Harassment and bullying behavior violate the terms of service for gaming accounts. Teach your child to write down any derogatory remarks or offensive conversations, or to take screenshots of them. This behavior can be reported to the game administrators. Offenders can have their accounts temporarily or permanently banned.
6 simple steps to protect your child’s privacy online
Though the threats to your privacy can’t be completely eliminated, you can greatly improve security with a few quick tricks.
- Make sure your child doesn’t use login credentials that reveal their real name or other personal information.
- Use a separate email address for video games.
- If you are getting rid of an old console, wipe your data from it and perform a factory reset. Whether you sell an old console, trade it, or just throw it in the dumpster, this keeps any curious thieves from stealing your info and putting it to their own use.
- Restrict your child’s access to games, movies and TV show advertisements that their game might recommend to them. Make sure their console can only connect to the sites and kid-friendly content that you allow.
- Warn your child about the dangers of online predators who may be seeking to steal their data or commit other crimes.
- Maintain a two-way conversation about video games with your child. This helps them feel safe to confide in you and lets them know you are aware of what’s going on.
With some basic precautions, your child can play video games with far less risk and you’ll rest easier at night knowing your family’s security is protected.
IDShield is a product of Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. d/b/a LegalShield (“LegalShield”). LegalShield provides access to identity theft protection and restoration services. For complete terms, coverage and conditions, please see an identity theft plan. All Licensed Private Investigators are licensed in the state of Oklahoma. This is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations.