Gaming has steadily risen in popularity over the years, moving from a niche scene to a more popular one. Consoles and computer games are not only being mass-produced but are evolving at a fast rate.
The love for single-player games has evolved into the exploration of player versus player team fights. Casual fun has given rise to the need for a more competitive arena now known as eSports. Split-screen multiplayer games with family have turned into games played across continents with strangers.
With online multiplayer games such as Fortnite and Call of Duty skyrocketing in popularity, it’s difficult to avoid the latter scenario of toxicity. After all, as with all things good, gaming also has a toxic side. This tends to be a cause of concern for most parents, especially when their kids still have a ways to go in terms of physical, emotional, and mental development.
Online multiplayer games, after all, are filled with strangers – and not all of them are lurking in these gaming lobbies just to play. Let’s face it: the worst-case scenario is these kinds of people come into contact with your child, and they end up spreading their toxicity, or worse: they end up taking advantage of them.
It’s best to know that this behavior isn’t rampant, common, or inherent in the gaming community, the same way it isn’t within the sports community, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. More importantly, this risk should not get in the way of the enjoyment, learning experiences, and genuine friendships your child can encounter while gaming.
Nevertheless, for those of you asking “What are some of the bad behaviors in online gaming?”, here are a few of the risks you should be on the lookout for if your child loves playing online games.
“Bro Culture” in Gaming and eSports is Prevalent
Since the beginning, gaming culture has been dominated by male gamers. Today, although the ratio is getting closer to even, there are still more males pursuing gaming than females. To top it all off, a lot of male gamers tend to be aggressive and dominant, to the point that there are even behaviors and language that can make gaming appear to be exclusively for these types of gamers, which can be toxic, especially for female gamers.
This attitude continues to be a risk in nearly every level of online gaming or eSports – from individual players to coaches, all the way to executives at game development companies.
Spotting this kind of behavior with your child is simple. Phrases such as “Fight me noob,” “1v1 me bro,” “Shut up noob, you’re adopted,” and “Girl-gamers aren’t real” are a few examples of how aggressive this subculture within gaming may be.
Although most of the time these phrases are intended as jokes, their misogynistic nature definitely doesn’t make it fun for a lot of individuals. Teaching your child how to say or how to interact with other people online can help them easily ignore this kind of language.
And if your child is a girl, it’s best to add in that both girls and boys can be gamers if they want to. It’s best to just avoid or block the mean “bros.”
Online Gaming Can Create High Levels of Pressure to Perform Well
Since gaming is getting more and more competitive, sometimes there is a lot of pressure to perform well – especially if the game involves a team fight.
Team games require a lot of teamwork and coordination to win, and sometimes, if even one person slips up, it might cost the whole team their victory. This is a huge reason why many players tend to be toxic in competitive environments, which is why it’s best to talk to your kids about receiving negative feedback.
They should understand that they shouldn’t take these comments personally, and that they should focus on having fun and improving both their individual and team skills. If focusing gets difficult, there is always an option to mute text chat and voice chat so your child doesn’t have to see or hear them.
There IS Such a Thing as Spending Too Much Time Playing Video Games
Although video games are a great way to unwind, as with all good things, they can also be quite addicting. In fact, there have been a lot of reports of parents neglecting their children due to being addicted to video games in the last couple of years – it’s a serious problem for some.
Too much screen time has also translated into a handful of negative effects, including insomnia, anxiety, eye strain, violence, and obesity.
If you start seeing signs of your child having uncontrollable urges to play games to the point where it affects other facets of their life such as school and truth-telling, then they are addicted and need immediate action.
Encouraging your child to balance their activities and to follow a schedule for play can help alleviate this problem.
The More Involved Parents Are in Gaming, The More Likely They Are to Spot Toxic Behaviors
With this strategy, you will be less prone to asking yourself, “Is my child being exposed to toxic gamers?” since you will already be able to spot them.
If your child is a gamer, it’s best for you to know what kinds of games they play and what kinds of people they interact with online. It helps the most if you can understand the game mechanics and how people play the game because some kinds of toxicity cannot be understood without first diving into the context of the game.
One example of this is tea-bagging. Not all parents know what it is, but when they find out about it, they are left shocked.
This behavior is popular in first person shooter games, and what happens is, when one of the players wins, they can manipulate their character into squatting on the face of the losing person’s character. It looks terrible, especially if you try to imagine the repercussions if it were done in real life.
Discussing these types of behavior with your child and course-correcting them as soon as you notice them in other people is definitely better than seeing your child do it and having to scold or tell them off.
Watching your kids play or sometimes even discussing their play can also help alleviate these kinds of instances.
Empowering Your Kids to Stand Up to Toxic Behavior
Standing up against toxic behavior sounds simple on paper, but in practice, it requires a lot of bravery and conviction – especially if peer pressure plays a role. Arming your child with ways to stand up to it is better than leaving them to learn this on their own, and these tools should definitely come from you.
Most games come with reporting systems and block functions, which your child can use when they get caught in a corner.
The best way to empower your kids to stand up to toxic behavior, however, is to set a good example. This is why playing games with your child is important because once someone behaves terribly in a game, you can stand up to this type of behavior, and your child will then find it easier to follow suit.
Standing up to these types of behaviors yourself will teach your child that they can do it too – in a way that’s better than any verbal or spoken lesson.
I hope you enjoyed our conversation answering the question “Is online gaming toxic?”. Feel free to add any thoughts and insights about toxic or negative behavior in gaming in the comments section.