Online gaming: How to protect your child

New Xbox One, PS4 continue advancements in social gaming

By Paul Giorgio - Producer

ORLANDO, Fla. - Long lines formed Thursday night for the release of the new Xbox One, which went on sale at midnight.

This on the heels of last week's PlayStation 4 debut. Both new consoles are expected to push the limits of social gaming.

But as games become more connected than ever, the negative aspects of playing with others is showing up more frequently.

Whether you call it trolling, griefing or bullying it has the same result - ruining the gaming experience for others. 

Joseph Rodas, 15, of Clermont says he and his friends are often forced to mute other players in games because the language is just too much to take.

"Some of the stuff they come up with is just crazy, like go kill yourself, jump off a cliff." He says it doesn't stop with violent chatter, the barbs often turn racial and profane. "People just don't care when they are on Xbox Live."

One of the main reasons trolling is such an issue is the wide range of players from around the globe, all in the same game.

"You never know who you're going to play with," Rodas says. "You can play with a guy from England or a dude from Russia."

Older players mix with younger players, experienced players right alongside novices.

As a parent, the best way to protect your child from these encounters is to know the games your child is playing.

Amy Jantzer, Vice President of  Echo, a mobile and digital media company in Downtown Orlando, says many parents are unaware these game even connect to the internet. 

"I think it's a lack of understanding, they think it's a game and games always have this nice friendly connotation when you think of them," she says. "When I compare them to Facebook, Twitter or other social media networks they immediately are like what?"

Jantzer is an avid gamer herself, she says playing online is like being in an un-moderated chat room.

There are however some precautions parents can take to help minimize the risk.

First, you can wait before allowing your child to play online with others.

She recommends creating accounts for all your family members that are pass code protected. The accounts can be used to block certain games rated beyond the desired age range.  

Get to know the games and consoles your child plays. Familiarize yourself with the parental controls as well as how the game works. We've included a link to the Entertainment Software Rating Board guide to parental controls.

Talk with your child and explain what cyber bullying is and what they should do if they encounter this behavior. Make sure they know how to use the "mute" function to ignore other players.

She says many games offer safe "guilds" or groups that young players can join. These are generally moderated and offer a tailored environment.

Both systems have a report feature that allows players to flag bad behavior.

Reports say the Xbox One will grade players based on reputation. Those with negative feedback will be playing in groups with others that have similar profiles.

Making it less likely they'll play with your child.

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