Hate Speech, Fake News, and Other Things Kids See in Online Games

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When a child starts playing video games online, sooner or later he will start chatting with other gamers.

In-game chats are rarely just about the game itself, and parents may want to think twice if their young children are ready to handle those chats on their own, if at all.

Chatting with other gamers, while meant to enrich gameplay, carries many risks, and digital media experts say young children are better off staying offline with their games until they are old enough. to handle the type of content known to surface in chats. .

Alternatively, they may prefer to play games with friends or, if possible, only join moderated chats.

Parents should also monitor their children when playing online games, not for monitoring purposes, but while playing with them. In other words, ask the child to show you how to play so that you can join them from time to time.

This way, you can show interest in what they enjoy, create shared experiences, and open yourself up to future trusted dialogue about what’s going on in online games and chats.

It’s also a good idea to alert your children to any potential danger – for example, by openly addressing the fact that they may encounter propaganda, extremist ideas, fake news and hate speech in the chat.

Indeed, some gamers use chats to share their ideological worldview and spread hatred, says digital media coach Iren Schulz.

In addition to hateful text and images in chats, players can also glorify violence against minorities through gameplay, and elements of existing games popular with many children can be modified to convey hateful meanings, Schlutz says.

Players can change their profile name, character gear, and sometimes everyone in the game, which means extremist players can fill the game itself with hateful symbols and messages that can be seen outside of the game. cat.

Children won’t always understand what’s going on here, as they often lack a critical assessment of the game world.

Parents can prepare them for such experiences and teach them to question the content they experience there. Above all, parents must make it clear to their children: you can talk to me if something seems strange to you.

It is best for parents to provide age-appropriate content and ensure that all relevant security and data protection settings are enabled. Plus, it’s worth it if you can keep up with the gameplay once in a while. – dpa

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Carolyn M. Daniel