Online gaming is great fun but it does bring together large numbers of online strangers, most of whom want just to play but some can pose a threat. Here are our 10 top tips for staying safe when playing on consoles and PCs.
1 Avoid downloading unofficial cheats from unknown sources. These are unlikely to work and will more likely contain viruses or other forms of malware. Likewise only download official upgrades and levels.
2 Never give away your email address to unauthorised sources as you may receive spam or emails that contain malware.
3 Choose a username that is nothing like your real name. Never put a clue to your date of birth in a username or add personal details to your online profile or avatar.
4 Use a strong password consisting of both characters and letters.
5 Delete all personal information from consoles and PCs when you dispose of them or pass them onto others.
6 On a PC, ensure antivirus software is installed and keep it fully up-to-date.
7 Beware of who you talk to and what you say to other game players. Treat them as game players and never reveal any personal information such as your full name, email, schools or phone numbers etc.
8 Report any abuse or bullying to games software makers through their reporting procedures. Players can get very competitive – sometime this spills over into abuse, while others simply use online gaming to abuse others. See if the game can block abusive players directly.
9 If you are a parent never let your children meet up with people they have “met” in multiplayer games.
10 Be wary of “virus alerts” unless they come from the antivirus software you installed. They could be false alerts designed to trick you into downloading software you don’t need.