Kids in my family love playing games of all kinds. When some of their cousins moved to another state, we looked at ways to keep playing games as a family. Among Us became a favorite for many reasons, but we still wanted to make sure we kept our kids safe while playing. Let’s explore what Among Us is and how we can keep kids safe while they play this popular game.
What Is Among Us?
What is Among Us? It’s a murder mystery game that became popular in 2020 in which astronauts, also called crewmates, do space tasks while an Imposter (alien) tries to kill everyone else. More comparable to a board game than other multiplayer video games, Among Us is great for long-distance play. Better yet, it’s free for mobile with ads and reasonably priced everywhere else.
How Do You Play Among Us?
If you’ve ever played Mafia or Werewolf (excellent ideas for a family or friend game night), you have an idea of how Among Us works. Between four and fifteen crewmates are on the map, trying to complete tasks in order to keep their ship from self-destructing. The Imposter, a disguised alien, tries to kill off crewmates, sabotage equipment, and hide in vents. The crew can try to catch the Imposter by watching for suspicious behavior and voting them off. Wrong guesses can lead to crewmates being eliminated while right guesses can help the crew win the game. The Imposter wins by eliminating the entire crew or stopping them from completing their list of tasks in time. If the crew can figure out who the Imposter is or complete all their tasks within the allotted time frame, they win. Communication is limited to “Emergency Meetings” or in between rounds, but eliminated players can’t chat during the round at all. During these meetings, the crew votes on who they think the Imposter is. If they all vote for the same player, that player is then ejected. The crew is then told if they guessed correctly or not. If they find the Imposter, they win the game, but the game continues if they guess wrong.
The game does show an animation when characters are eliminated by the Imposter, but it’s a cartoon-style death that doesn’t linger on violence or have overly graphic content. This content is okay for older kids or teens but it might be disturbing to younger kids. Younger kids also may feel betrayed or upset due to the nature of the game. Because the game has the murder-solving elements of Clue and the group trials of Mafia, it’s important to make sure your kids are mature enough to handle the stress that comes from defending ones innocence or lying to deceive friends. Make sure they are also mature enough to understand the difference between playing a game and deceiving people in real life. The emotions that arise while playing might also be too intense for your younger kids to handle. If your kids are still too little to handle these parts of the game, you can adapt the way you play so the Imposter doesn’t eliminate anyone and the kids can complete tasks on the ship to win.
So what devices can you use to play Among Us? Among Us is available on most any device. It’s free with ads on mobile or ad free for a small fee. It’s also available on Apple, Android, PC, Switch, Playstation, and Xbox devices. The game also includes purchasable cosmetics (features that allow you to change the appearance of your character) for player characters, although these don’t impact gameplay in any way.
Why Do Kids Love Among Us?
While the game debuted in 2018, it became popular in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic because of players on the streaming service Twitch. The game caught on quickly not only because it’s quick and easy to play, but also because it allows multiple device play with friends all over the globe.
Let’s Talk Safety
Like all online games, Among Us has some downsides. On one end of the spectrum, the mild violence of the death animations or the personal betrayal of a friend deceiving you can be too much for younger kids. Other parts of the game can escalate to more serious threats such as cyberbullying. The game does have features that allow the host of the game to block players, but remember that only the host can block them. The chats also automatically block profanity. These features help discourage cyberbullying, but can’t stop it entirely. Make sure your kids aren’t the perpetrators of cyberbullying on their online games—check out some video gaming etiquette here.
Online games, including Among Us, always carry the risk of kids encountering adult content or predators through the game’s chat feature. Among Us also faced an issue with a hacker who hacked into the game’s chat to spread his own political agenda. The game developers have since taken care of the problem, but it’s important to be aware of what kids may encounter in any online game. A way to keep them safe is to only allow them to play Among Us with people who you and your children know and to host the game yourself.
Among Us and Scams
While there aren’t many scam threats on Among Us, they are still present. Kids may try to get free cosmetics or items online for the game. Those sites and offers are always scams. Teach your kids to avoid this common scam and to be smart with their finances.
Among Us doesn’t teach kids in the traditional sense. There is little reading, math, and science, but it does teach kids a good amount about socializing and deductive reasoning. They need to be able to make a case for their innocence, provide compelling evidence, and fact check other players. Kids can use these skills while playing with family and friends, even at a distance.
What Are the Alternatives?
If you’ve decided Among Us isn’t for your family but you want a similar game for your family or you just need a break from screen time, what are some alternatives? Check out this article for 35 great screen-free activities you can try with your family.
Online Safety Is Critical
Remember, keeping our kids safe is important, even when it comes to their hobbies. Troomi wants to help you keep your kids safe with smartphones that feature parental controls like contact and website SafeListing™ and screen time limits. Check out Troomi’s plans to find one right for your family and keep an eye on our blog for future safety tips.