Play Safe: Parents Guide to Online Gaming for Teens

Published on Apr 29, 2020

As the interaction between teens at school has come to an abrupt end this year, many are turning to video games to connect with their friends while social distancing is in place.

Taking the most popular age-appropriate games from their Lockdown Video Game Study, Uswitch reveals the hidden safety features parents can utilize to keep their teens safe while gaming.


The Top Video Games for Teens 

  1. Uncharted 4 – 5/5 on Common Sense Media 

Dive deep into the drama-filled life of fortune hunter (thief) Nathan Drake, as he sets on a mission to find the long-lost treasure of Captain Henry Avery. Journey around the globe, into the jungle isles, urban cities, and snow-capped peaks on the quest to find the lost treasure.


Age Rating: 16+

Genre: Third-person shooter

Safety Tip: Use parental controls to restrict who your teen can speak to using the chat function.

  1. Destiny 2: Shadow Keep – 3/5 on Common Sense Media 

Eris Morn has been called on by haunting visions, to slay the New Nightmares that have emerged from the shadows of our Moon. Join her in battle, to stop these nightmares before they reach beyond the moon. But, do you have the skills to prevent the return of darkness on humanity?


Age Rating: 16+

Genre: Action role-playing game

Safety Tip: Avoid saving your payment card details to the game to avoid unrestricted spending on in-game content.


  1. Final Fantasy VII – 4/5 on Common Sense Media 

Take on the role of Cloud Strife, a former soldier who joins an eco-terrorist group as they set on a mission to stop an electric power company using the planet’s life essence as an energy source. Do you have the skills to protect our planet and save the environment?


Age Rating: 13+

Genre: Role-playing game

Safety Tip: Parents should have a conversation with their teens to explain that this game features drinking, drugs and swearing amongst other adult themes.


  1. The Sims 4 – 4/5 on Common Sense Media 

Enter into a virtual world where everything is controlled with your creativity, create your perfect sim and the world they live within. Start from the bottom and build a successful career, strong relationships and skills.


Age Rating: 12+

Genre: Simulation

Safety Tip: Rather than add your payment card details to the game, instead purchase a gift voucher for a set amount then your teen will know how much budget they are allowed to spend on in-game content.


  1. Bleeding Edge – 3/5 on Common Sense Media

Join your teammates In an adrenaline-pumped online fight where all characters become mechanically enhanced for the mayhem! Choose from a diverse cast of fighters, from beautiful Buttercup with her detachable saw blade arms to New York criminal Daemon with his Graffiti blade.


Age Rating: 16+

Genre: Multiplayer Online battle arena

Safety Tip: Blood is shown in the fights within this game but the developers have been careful to ensure there is no gore.


  1. Fortnite – 4/5 on Common Sense Media

Taking the top spot for the fastest games to download is Fortnite, an interactive survival game where 100 players fight against each other to be the last one standing. Fast-paced and action-packed game, where you can battle against plagued zombies in their attempt to destroy Earth.


Age Rating: 12+

Genre: Third-person shooter

Safety Tip: Use the parental controls to set restrictions such as disabling voice chat, filtering mature language, and hiding your real name. These can be pin protected to avoid any changes without your knowledge.


  1. Apex Legends – 5/5 on Common Sense Media

Pick your unique legend character, each with their own backstory, abilities, and playstyle, and battle it out for victory. From legend Caustic with his gas grenades and nox vision to legend Octane with his self-healing skills. Pick correctly and your team will win the battle.


Age Rating: 14+

Genre: First-person shooter

Safety Tip: The safest way to play is to be on a squad only with people you know or to mute voice and text chat. Use parental controls within the game to set this up and protect with a pin.


  1. FIFA 20 – 4/5 on Common Sense Media

Get your football fix while cooped up at home with Fifa 20. Pick your player, pick your team and kick off an expert worthy match with opponent gamers or without. With over 17 different locations, you are guaranteed a unique virtual experience, from the comfort of your home.


Age Rating: 13+

Genre: Simulation

Safety Tip: Ensure you have already set up passwords and limits on any payment cards on the system. Consider gift cards or vouchers for FIFA points. You can also add money periodically as an alternative to open credit. Opt yourself into email notifications so you can keep tabs on any spending.


  1. Art: Survival Evolved –  4/5 on Common Sense Media

You’ve found yourself stranded on a mysterious island called ARK, both cold and hungry. Use your skills to hunt, tame and ride the leviathan dinosaurs and other primeval creatures of ARK. Learn how to survive by growing, harvesting and crafting items. Team up with or hunt other players to survive the challenges that face you!


Age Rating: 16+

Genre: Action-adventure game

Safety Tip: Blood can be turned off in this game, which helps to reduce the gore-factor and violence levels.


  1. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 – Road to Boruto – 3/5 on Common Sense Media

Join the colourful and breathtaking adventure of Ninja Storm, choose from 124 ninjas and battle to victory. Unlock advanced fighting skills and elite characters, do you have what it takes to win the battle?


Age Rating: 12+

Genre: Fighter

Safety Tip: Consider purchasing a season pass rather than adding an ‘open’ payment method to your account. This way you save money and keep control over any spending on downloadable content (DLC).


Uswitch tips for keeping your teen safe while playing video games during self-isolation:


  1. Limit the blood and violence featured in the game

    1. Parents should be aware that the story-line of many teen games involve strong violence. To reduce the impact of violent scenes on your child, you can disable the blood element in settings for certain video games.

  1. Turn off public online chat settings

    1. Chatting to their friends online when gaming is one thing, but some games offer public online chat which may expose your teen to profanity and adult topics. This feature can often be disabled within the console settings.

  1. Never let them use your bank details without your supervision

    1. You may be able to spot a scam pretty quickly, but your kids may not. Scammers work hard at getting your money through online video games, to protect yourself and your child never let them use your bank details without your supervision.

  1. Talk to your teen about the dangers of making friends online.

    1. Teens are very curious when online gaming, they can find themselves in a troubling situation if not warned about the dangers of talking to strangers online. Friending other players who may be strangers of any age can be dangerous,

  1. Try before you buy, or in this case, before your child gets their hands on it.

    1. Most games like FIFA 20 offer a free demo so that gamers can trial the game before buying. So, take this opportunity to see what your child will be playing and explore all the different elements of the game.

  1. Join the fun

    1. This is the perfect excuse to find out exactly what goes on within the games your teen plays. By joining the game you can see who your child is playing with, talking to, and most importantly what graphic content they are exposed to.

  1. Encourage your teen child to have regular screen breaks.

    1. Video games can be addictive as they are largely goal-driven and rewarding before this becomes an issue set time limits on video game usage.

  1. Use parental controls to limit the length of time spent gaming.

    1. Parental controls are handy for ensuring your teen isn’t gaming while they should be studying or sleeping, many consoles allow you to restrict gaming time by setting parental controls. Using this tool you can also choose what games your children play.

  1. Keep it age-appropriate for your teen

    1. using the age ratings and content icons you can prevent your teen from seeing inappropriate graphics. Content icons warn you of gaming content such as drugs, sex, violence, and bad language.

  1. Ensure they don’t use their full name or photograph when chatting online

    1. Teens may leave themselves vulnerable to unwanted contact from sharing their personal information via their gaming profiles or chatting with other players. To prevent this, ensure your child’s gaming profile is made private, ask your child to not use their own photograph or full name on their profile.


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