Don’t Play Games With Your Cybersecurity: Our Findings on the Role of Security in the World of Gaming

Playing video games has become a popular pastime for children of all ages (even for some adults too), as the virtual challenges encourage these players to try their hand at beating the game again and again. In fact, recent McAfee research found that gaming helps prepare these kids for a potential career in cybersecurity. However, what many children and parents don’t realize is that these games can also pose a serious threat to their family’s online safety. To unpack what that threat looks like exactly, we conducted the McAfee which explores consumers’ attitudes towards the perceived risks that come with gaming. Let’s dive into the key findings.

Our survey discovered that 62% of children play games where they speak to other people while playing, and parents who responded to our survey are most worried that this unknown person may be a sexual predator (75% of parents), bully (61%), cybercriminal who could steal personal or financial info (60%), or a drug dealer (37%). Despite this worry, 44% of parents would still allow their child to play a game that they are technically too young for (i.e. they are younger than the recommended age determined by the rating).

What’s more – despite allowing their children up to four hours of gaming per day, 71% of parents at least somewhat agree that their child is at risk of being exposed to inappropriate content while gaming. 62% worry about cybercriminals disguising themselves as another player to steal sensitive information, 58% are concerned that their child could click on a link and download a virus, and 52% worry about cybercriminals hacking gaming accounts and accessing personal or financial information. And unfortunately, some of these concerns have become a reality, as we’ve recently seen cyberattacks involving both Minecraft and Nintendo Switch.

So, with parents worried about the security risks that come with online gaming – why aren’t they doing something to assuage their own concerns? Fortunately, we have a few pointers you can use to start securing your kid’s online safety today:

  • Browse with protection. A tool like McAfee WebAdvisor can help you avoid dangerous websites and links, and will warn you in the event that you do accidentally click on something malicious.
  • Use comprehensive security. No matter what you do online, it’s best to use a security product like McAfee Total Protection that can help keep your connected devices safe from malware. Just like any PC application, be sure to keep your security software updated with the latest software version.
  • Use parental control software. Parental control will help you set time limits on your child’s device usage and help minimize exposure to potentially malicious or inappropriate websites.

And, of course, to stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats, be sure to follow me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, listen to our podcast Hackable? and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Survey Methodology: McAfee commissioned OnePoll to conduct a survey of 5,000 parents of children ages 6 to 16 who play online or console games in Australia, Germany, Singapore, the U.S. and the U.K.

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