I recently moved halfway across the world to Iceland. Moving was absolutely thrilling, and I was beyond pumped at the prospect of camping beneath the northern lights and going on endless hikes to beautiful vistas and waterfalls. At the same time though, I was worried that I would lose contact with some of my friends back in North America. Thankfully, this isn’t the case! I’ve discovered that playing online games like Mario Kart and Fortnite has been a great way to spend time with friends from home.
Video games are a great way to build relationships with family and friends. Some of my closest friends were made by playing Super Smash Bros! Not only are video games a good time, they can also increase teamwork, help you develop hand-eye coordination, and boost your creative problem solving skills (check out Portal if your teen needs some help with that last one).
However, it’s no secret that video games can also be extremely toxic. When we play online, we often forget that there are actual people playing along with us—not just the computer. It helps to have some basic knowledge of gaming etiquette so we can avoid frustrating our teammates, hindering others from having a good time, or, at worst, completely ruining friendships.
So what are the rules of gaming etiquette? Without further ado, here are seven unofficial rules of gaming that will help your kids have good manners when playing games online with their friends.
1. Make sure to ask before making a purchase!
I’m putting this one first because it’s one of the biggest issues when it comes to online gaming, especially for all the parents out there.
Some games, like Fortnite and Roblox, have in-game currency that players use to buy extra equipment and items like skins that help with character customization. These items can range anywhere from $5 to $40.
This price is typically for just one item. If you buy more than one thing, the price adds up extremely quickly—especially when loot boxes and gambling are involved (check out this article to learn more). Just ask this kid who used their mom’s credit card to spend almost $350 on Fortnite!
To avoid this, make sure your child knows to ask a parent or guardian before spending any real money on their video games. If the video game saves your card information, I recommend going in and erasing it! This will ensure that your kid has to come to you before making any purchases. Otherwise they may go off the rails and spend a fortune on a new Fortnite pickaxe!
2. Don’t cheat!
There’s nothing more frustrating than a cheater. Whether you’re playing an online game like Mario Party or a board game like Monopoly, I’m sure you’d agree that cheating zaps all the fun out of the game. It gives the other players an obvious disadvantage, and on top of that, there’s no joy in winning when you cheat!
Just as it’s important to set a good example about cell phone habits, it’s also a good idea to remind your children that cheating has no positive consequences.
3. Know when to turn off your mic
Imagine you’re talking to a friend or relative on the phone. You’re just beginning to get to the heart of the conversation when suddenly you hear a loud song coming from the other line. You’re startled and stunned, and your conversation quickly loses steam. It can be so distracting!
The same goes for games. If your kiddo enjoys playing online with their friends, they may be interested in getting a microphone so they can hear their friends’ voices. If this is the case, make sure they know when to turn the microphone off! Whether they’re listening to music or having a conversation with you while they play, the bombardment of sound can be frustrating for their friends.
4. Avoid quitting before the game has ended
Video games can be frustrating, and your child may want to quit before the game has officially ended. If this is the case, encourage them to stick it out to the end! In addition to potentially saving friendships, encouraging your child to keep playing when they’re losing teaches them how to be a good sport and to stick it out in difficult circumstances.
Think about online gaming like any other team sport. If your child was in the middle of a soccer game and wanted to quit, would that be fair to their teammates? Even though they aren’t on a physical field, the same goes for team games. Quitting before the game has ended leaves your teammates high and dry, and at an exceptional disadvantage. The stakes are likely not as high as a football match (unless your child is interested in Esports), but it’s common courtesy to keep at it, even in the face of defeat.
5. Be open to playing new games
If your child’s friend suggests a game that they have never played before, it can be a great opportunity to broaden horizons and learn new things. Of course, do a little research before allowing your kiddo to play the game. CommonSenseMedia posts reviews of many video games, focusing on how kid-friendly they are. Click here to check it out!
If you decide that your child can play, encourage them to be open to trying something new! They may not want to at first, but you never know: they might just discover a new favorite.
6. Be a good sport
We’ve all known a sore loser at one point or another. You know what I’m talking about: that guy that is the first one out in dodgeball and then spends the rest of the day sulking or refusing to play? Or maybe you know the one that throws a tantrum when their team loses?
Before they play games with friends, remind your kids what it means to be a good sport. This means that even if their team is losing, they’re cheering and supporting their teammates. If they happen to lose, a good sport congratulates the other team on their victory! And if they do win, a good sport doesn’t rub it in the opposing teams face.
Check out this video to help your younger kids understand how to be a good sport!
7. Be kind and have fun!
Above all, remember to be kind and have fun! Games are meant to be a good time, and being rude or obnoxious can ruin others’ experience. So just sit back, relax, and don’t take the game too seriously!
Of course, don’t have too much fun: video games can be addicting. To combat the addictive nature of many smartphone games, Troomi has developed KidSmart™ apps and games. These fun applications encourage your children to learn and grow without the risk of developing an addiction. Click here to check out our website and get more info!
And don’t forget to keep an eye on the Troomi blog for more parenting tips and tricks!