Have a Teen that Plays Video Games? READ THIS!

If your teen plays video games, this is a must-read post! Check out parenting tips to keep your teen safe from stranger dangers online and off!

Yesterday I shared this following post on my Facebook page, a horrifying post that sent chills to my back: a 14-year-old was killed by a 19-year-old he knew from a video game! HORRIFYING. My teen is 14. He plays video games. See the similarities! But then I said: He does not play with strangers. It should be good. Right? You know when you want to convince yourself by being in denial? I was doing that. I was trying to avoid the problem and saying to myself: It happens to the others, not to us.

But then, when my son came back home, I wanted to get things clear and get it off my chest. Better safe than sorry, right? I asked him if he played with strangers and he said: YES.

He says: Mom everybody plays with strangersYou should have seen my face: I was shocked.  It could be him; it could be him. I was saying to myself. I did not know what to say and what to do, but then I decided to make him read the article. Yes, make him read. He was reading right next to me, and his face turned white too.

Related: 5 Important Cyber Bullying Tips for Teens

As a parent, I had a responsibility. I had the responsibility to discuss, share and emphasize. As a parent of a teen, I have a duty to protect and know what my child is doing: online and offline. I had few options ahead of me:

I could ban him from playing video games

That would be the best, right? But he has access to a computer at school, at a friend’s. Banning is never the option, in my opinion. Banning will create some deeper need and can lead to scarier behavior.

Option ruled out.

I could check everything he plays, monitor all his video games, maybe be his game buddy.

He was laughing out loud at me and with reason. I know I am a helicopter mom, but even I know that borders on an obsessed one! How can I monitor him 24-7? I can check from time to time but not hover.

I could discuss with him some safety measures

I believe in the discussion. Once he read the article, and I asked him: how can we avoid that? The solutions had to come from him. He had to be aware of the danger, and he had to have red flags. I had to help him figure those red flags.

  • No information sharing what so ever: email, address, age, full name, etc. Stick with gamer tags and usernames that don’t have your real name as a part of it.  He said he is already doing that, and I emphasized that a lot. I told him to be extra careful. I repeated maybe 20, 40 times until he was on the verge of shouting. Better be safe than sorry.
  • Limit the time on the computer. I know that did not come from him but me. But by limiting game play, you limit the exposure to harm, and I make sure to discuss with him after the game (whenever possible to make sure no one tried to harm him or get to know him closely)
  • Report button: he says all games had a report button. It sounds a nice feature, but the child must know what to report. He must know a suspicious behavior. Someone is trying to get your email, to know what you look like, what school you go to. Those seem innocent questions, but they are NOT in an online game with a stranger. You are discussing with a stranger. I asked my son: do you open our door to a stranger when you are alone? He says no. The same rule applies. My teen had to understand this.
  • Shock them. Yes, make them read these articles. Discuss with them. Tell them it can happen to anyone. Use the dinner time to discuss. I know you are tired, and you want some peace of mind but listening to your teen is crucial. It will help you detect any behavioral change.

I don’t have a magic answer. I wish I had. I wish I could ban my teen from playing video games, crossing the street by himself and just put him in a bubble. I cannot. Can I? I need to give him tools, help him. DISCUSSING helps me. It helps me detect any suspicious behavior. It helps him know that there is someone else caring for him. Reducing screen time is a great option. Get him to do other things: fitness activities, reading books, playing a card with you, baking if he likes.

Do you have teens that play video games? How do you help them face this?

21 thoughts on “Have a Teen that Plays Video Games? READ THIS!”

  1. My four year old is already into the world of video games, but I have learned to set time limits. I hope that as he gets older it will be easy to monitor.

  2. I read the article of the 14 yr old’s death but I am really concerned because that could of been prevented. The entire article I hate to say was a form of negligent parenting. You may think your a helicopter mom, but this boy’s parents was ignoring clear signs of a changed behavior that was going on since he met this online guy. The killer was a depressed 19 yr old who probably had psychological issues from being in and out of foster homes, probably lacked loved and was outcasted into society as an adult and now didnt know how to cope so he found a victim in the 14 yr old. He also had a previous record of raping another teen boy..so he probably had some sexual repressed feelings too he need to rage about.

    This issue is way deeper than video games, as the boy was probably having a secret relationship with his future killer. Your son, although he plays online with strangers…he should be find as long as he never gives out personal information and NEVER meet with them in person. The way social media and technology is going, its great we can connect with people but as long as he is in your house just teach him not to go beyond the online gaming aspect. Im glad you showed him that article as that will be embedded in his mind to make sure not to go further in the future. Good read!

  3. My Son loves video games. I hear him talking on his headset all the time to his fellow players. When he was younger we had a big talk about online safety and this included games and who you are talking to on the other end.

  4. As a mom this is something that I haven’t put much thought into. I know I need to start teaching my kids and monitoring what they are doing more than I am.. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Times have definitely changed from playing the Atari at the arcade for a quarter! Ya know, when you could let your kids walk across town to go there and they stay for hours, then walk walk, alone..after dark! It’s scary for sure!

  6. As much good as social media/the internet can do, it is frightening to learn about these types of stories. It is so important to talk to our children about the proper way to behave online and ensure that they know if something seems fishy, it probably is and they need to talk to a trusted adult ASAP.

  7. I like the way you were proactive with working on this with your son, and that you had him work with you to come up with solutions and ways of dealing with this should it ever happen to him.

    If he had already been involved with someone such as the other boy was, he may have played along with you but not been an active participant in coming up with plan how to deal with this.

    Times are changing, and perhaps the school system needs to begin addressing these issues early on as well. And to teach kids what is appropriate and inappropriate, early on before they find themselves in similar situations.

  8. It’s really important to talk about online safety with kids. They may think something is completely harmless if they aren’t taught what’s appropriate and what’s not, what to share and what not to. It really is kind of scary if you take the time to think about it!

  9. It is scary how people can use video games to get to kids these days. Thankfully my girls don’t play video games, but they do love their kindles so I have to watch there.

  10. Kiddo is still quite young, but this does concern me. Most likely when he plays videogames he’s not going to be playing them online simply because this world is not nearly as safe as it used to be. There are predators all over the Internet.

  11. Robin Rue (@massholemommy)

    My kids aren’t allowed to play with other people yet. They are too young, but I will be careful when they are older.

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