Playing games online connected my children to their friends when they weren’t able to meet in person. They were already a part of family life before, but now playing online has become the norm.

With this increase in use, it’s important to understand how online gaming services use their information. I’ve been reading up about this on PlayStation’s recent blog where it introduces a new Online Safety, Account Security and Privacy site. This is a nice outline of how they handle profile data, chat and messaging information, content sharing and how to report inappropriate behaviour.

Which ever platform you use to play online this is a good set of areas to ensure you understand. Your console and the related accounts should enable you to specify how you want this information to be used.

In my family we spent some time working through the Safety and Privacy hub. Before doing this I had thought this was already set-up how I wanted it. But there were a few areas I was pleased to revisit (now my kids are older) and tweak settings.

Some things we did was to tighten up who the kids to make friends with and message. They have a long list of friends on PlayStation so we set it to only enable “Close Friends” to be able to see their name and activity.

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We also tweaked the chat settings. Here I decided to enable them to create Parties with Messaging. I prefer them to play here rather than migrate to services like Discord that I then need to manage separately.

With this set-up we spent a bit of time checking in with the kids about any unsettling interactions from other players. They said they were fine, but did appreciate going through how to block or report other player behaviour.

Once this was all set-up I applied two-step verification for greater security. This does mean they sometimes need to ask me for a code to log-in but I quite like it. Not only is it safer, but it means I can check in with them if they are logging into a new device, or when at a friend’s house.

If you want to go through a similar safety and privacy hour with your family, the PlayStation hub is a good place to start. And it has this handy overview video:

I appreciated both understand how PlayStation use our information to provide a tailored service, as well as how to control things on our devices. It’s this growing literacy and understanding that really helps parents make informed choices about their family’s gaming habits.

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