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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > October 2022 > Parents and kids: Tips for safer social media and gaming

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Parents and kids: Tips for safer social media and gaming

Ohioans of all ages enjoy belonging to online communities. In recognition of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we offer tips to help parents and their kids stay safe while on social media and online gaming platforms.
For starters, be sure to review the preceding article on the “Seven simple steps to be more secure in cyberspace.” Advice on creating passwords, using multifactor authentication and keeping antivirus software updated is applicable to social media and gaming environments.
In addition, consider these specific tips about online gaming:
  • Research any apps before downloading them to make sure they are legitimate and safe. Read reviews and go only to trusted app stores. Note that even in trusted app stores, some apps may not be safe.
  • Use a credit card, not a debit card, if you need to enter any payment data for online gaming. Credit cards have additional protections afforded by law.
  • Watch out for potentially dangerous links or downloads, especially if they are from a stranger or are unexpectedly provided to you. According to the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA), “Cyber criminals will often try to entice gamers into clicking links or downloading malicious files by offering cheats, hacks or other ways to gain an advantage over competitors.” One smart tip is to hover your mouse pointer over a link before taking any action. Doing this will reveal the actual URL to which the link will take you.
  • Share as little personal information as possible on your public gaming account profile.
  • Stay away from online gaming on free, public Wi-Fi to keep strangers from accessing your personal information and digital wallets. If you need to game online while traveling, the NCA suggests considering using a virtual private network (VPN) or hotspot through your cellphone signal to help provide a more secure connection.
  • Be aware that parents can configure security and privacy settings for online gaming to limit how much information kids share. Consider parental controls to help institute rules about what your child can do and what they should be restricted from doing while online. This could include whether the child is able to communicate with other gamers, how much time they spend gaming and what – if anything – they are permitted to buy through the gaming environment.
Consider these tips regarding social media platforms:
  • Stay current with social media apps your children may be using. Parents should know what their kids are doing online. Be sure to discuss with kids the importance of not interacting with strangers they meet through social media, and make sure they know not to click on any links or download any unknown files. Let your kids know it is OK to talk to you about unsafe interactions with others.
  • Recognize that social media posts can live a long life and be distributed beyond a person’s intended network of friends. Think before you overshare.
  • Make sure your children’s privacy settings are as strict as possible, establish guidelines governing their online activities (e.g., length of time online), and consider other parental controls that might be necessary.
  • Understand how your personal data is used by social media platforms. According to the Better Business Bureau, “Many sites are designed to collect and sell unauthorized user details and behaviors to advertisers looking to engage in targeted marketing.”
For more information about the National Cybersecurity Alliance, visit its website at For additional online privacy tips from the Better Business Bureau, click here. For cybersecurity tips from the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section, click here.