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Game Systems Not Just for Playing Games

​Many children are asking for the newest game system as gifts, and it is important parents understand the dangers some systems can pose.

"Video games can be lots of fun and a great way for a family to enjoy each other 's company,” said Laura Buddenberg, Co-Director of the Center for Adolescent and Family Spirituality at Girls and Boys Town .  “In the midst of the holiday rush to get their child the perfect gift, though, parents can miss some of the potential pitfalls. It ' s important parents do their homework before hitting the mall."

When accessing the internet, game systems increase the risk of internet predators finding their way into many homes and putting children at risk.  Recent research indicates:

  • 71 percent of teens receive messages online from strangers, and 45 percent are asked for personal information.
  • 30 percent of teens have considered meeting someone that they’ve only talked to online, and 14 percent have actually met a person face-to-face who they have only spoken to over the Internet.

Just like the internet, game systems are not bad, but it is important parents understand the dangers they can pose. Here are some tips on how to keep your child safe while he or she is using gaming systems:

  1. Educate yourself about gaming systems before purchasing one.
    • The Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable) and PlayStation 3 offers users the ability to browse the internet and send text messages.  PlayStation 3 also offers an “always on” online connectivity feature that allows multiplayer gaming, text and video messaging, voice chatting, and downloading content from the internet. 
    • Microsoft’s XBOX 360 allows users to browse the internet, send and receive photos and text messages, play music and videos, and watch television.
    • Nintendo Wii provides parental controls for its internet abilities, while the Nintendo DS allows users to compete against players from around the world through its Wi-Fi connection.  Users can also chat with other DS owners within 100 feet of each other.
    • Wi-Fi Adapters allow users to turn electronic devices into wireless internet devices.  Wi-Fi allows a device to connect to the internet when it is within range of a wireless connection.
  2. ​​Make sure electronics are used in a public place and pay attention to how your child uses them.
  3. Use the devices and games yourself, in order to understand them.
  4. Just say “No!” if you don’t approve of their use.
  5. Talk with your child about proper use of the devices when he or she is young.
  6. Understand their attitudes and opinions and watch for changes in their behavior.
  7. Set limits before it is too late, both about time allowed playing games and expectations of the content on their gaming systems.

“Many game systems allow users to go online.  All that is needed is an internet connection, either wireless or through a cable,” said JR Crayne, Boys Town Web Systems Manager. “Take the time to understand game systems for yourself.  By talking to your child about the safe use of the systems, you can help them stay out of harms way.”

* Obtained from www.netsmartz.org

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