Gaming: Online Safety for Children and Young People [Part 3 of 6]

Welcome to our third installment in a six-part series where we delve into the world of gaming – not from the perspective of the games themselves, but rather the reasons why these games hold importance for children and young people.

It’s crucial to understand that gaming transcends mere recreational activities and plays a pivotal role in many individuals’ lives, not just children and young people.

Prefer to watch the video?

As a confessed gaming enthusiast, I can attest to the allure of delving into virtual worlds for moments of fun and strategic thinking. It serves as an incredible outlet for relaxation.

However, it’s also imperative to note the initial resistance I faced in acknowledging the amount of time my young sons spent gaming.

My initial reaction was one of frustration, believing that their time would be better spent engaged in real-world activities. However, upon closer inspection, it became evident that their gaming habits didn’t impede their ability to socialise or maintain their academic responsibilities.

Socialising through gaming and social impact

For many people, it can be challenging to reconcile the evolving nature of children’s recreational habits. What was typical for us during our childhood is a far cry from the reality children face today. Or is it?

This leads us to an essential aspect of gaming. Often, the game itself is essential, but the socialisation that occurs during gameplay holds greater importance.

It’s easy to label this generation of children as antisocial due to their heavy reliance on devices. However, my personal observation reveals that they are indeed more social than previous generations.

The modes of their socialisation may be unconventional, primarily via games or social media, but it doesn’t invalidate their social interactions. Importantly, for some children, gaming is an integral part of their social skills development, offering a non-judgmental space to interact with others.

3 categories of games from an online safety standpoint

There’s a vast array of games that captivate the attention of children and young people. These games can be broadly categorised into benign, creative, and adventurous games.

  • Examples of benign games include Candy Crush and educational games such as Words With Friends.
  • Minecraft and Roblox exemplify creative games. They are more than just games; they are platforms fostering creativity and, thus, serve educational purposes.
  • More adventurous games include popular games like Fortnite and 18 rated games like the Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto collections.

So called “gaming disorder”

In 2018, the World Health Organisation classified gaming disorder as a mental health condition, sparking criticism from scientists who believed the move was premature.

The evidence supporting the WHO’s claim remains scattered and inconclusive, which led to the emergence of “addiction clinics.”

It’s important to be careful not to casually label gaming as addictive, but it’s equally crucial to acknowledge the struggle some parents face with their children’s gaming habits.


The most significant takeaway from our discussion is twofold.

First, gaming, for many children and young people, is about socialisation with their friends or like-minded individuals.

Second, games can sometimes serve as coping mechanisms for personal struggles, ranging from minor issues to significant traumatic events.

Therefore, if you notice excessive gaming in a child that deviates from their character, remember to investigate the underlying issues that could be driving this behavior. In such cases, the game is likely a smokescreen for deeper problems.

As we close this segment, we anticipate discussing an even bigger online phenomenon in our next installment – YouTube Online Safety for children and young people.

Get in touch
Do you have questions about safeguarding in education? Get in touch with our digital safeguarding experts to learn about our digital monitoring solutions for schools.