Playing games like Fortnite or Minecraft can be a fun way to pass time with friends, but it is important to think about whether or not the game you play is appropriate.

Games with a 16 or an 18 rating might seem fun, but may contain adult themes, graphic violence or explicit language. Playing an adult game could cause children to think this behaviour is normal, something they start to copy in real life. It could also leave children at risk of abuse from older random gamers. Remember, even a game like Fortnite has a PEGI rating of 12, and although the graphics are cartoonish, the aim of the game is to be violent.

There are some tips to help you enjoy gaming safely:

  • Make sure your username does not include personal information, such as your name, school or date of birth. If you're using a profile picture, don't show your face or anything that might identify you in your avatar.
  • Use strong passwords on all accounts - ideally more than 8 characters with a mix of lower case letters, upper case letters and special characters (like %, #, £ and $).
  • Anyone could be playing the same online game as you, maybe in the same gaming lobby as you. Some might be younger, some may be a lot older, especially if you a playing a game with an 18 rating! The safest option is to just play with the friends you know and trust in real life.
  • If you do play with random people, remember:
    • You can report anyone who is abusive or threatening to you.
    • People might not be honest about who they are.
    • Be careful of scams and offers that seem too good to be true.
    • Be nice to people even if they are not good at the game.
    • Never enter a private chat with someone you don’t know.
  • Check your privacy settings so only your real friends can see when you're online, what games you are playing or join your gaming party. Ask parents & guardians to help if you're not sure.
  • Playing for a long time can seem tempting, but not taking a break might be unhealthy. Make sure you take a break if you are getting angry at the game or at other players, feeling tired or ignoring things that you need to do, like homework.
  • Beware of loot boxes. It might be a free to play game, but buying in-game items, skins or lives can be very expensive. Loot boxes can be a lottery, encouraging you to keep spending until you get the item you want or to keep playing longer and longer. Always check with the person who will be paying before you buy anything.
Close up of two playstation 4 controllers held by two players