How to set house rules for multiplayer VR games

By: Ray Pastore

Apply parental control settings to headsets and teach kids how to spot toxic game behavior in multiplayer VR games. A gamer, IT professor and dad shows you how.

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Kid Playing Multiplayer VR Games

My family is fully immersed in virtual reality—and as a parent, I have a responsibility to monitor what’s happening in my kids’ VR headsets as they play multiplayer VR games.

I’m a gaming and IT professor, and parent to three boys, and we have two Meta Oculus Quest headsets in our house. My sons’ friends come by every day to play VR games—and sometimes their gaming includes other people wearing VR headsets in other parts of the world. But it gets tricky when visiting kids have different house rules (or none at all) for multiplayer VR games.

As parents, we need to talk with our kids about how to play it safe in VR, and we also need to talk to other parents about what’s OK at their houses. 

Here’s how to start the conversations with your kids, their friends and their friends’ parents about how to keep kids safe when playing multiplayer VR games.

What makes a game multiplayer?

Multiplayer games are played simultaneously by more than one player. Players can be in the same room or in different parts of the world. Among VR games, the most popular are multiplayer VR games, as well as free games with options to buy additional features in the games. You can play along with a dedicated VR headset, like the Meta Quest, or convert your phone to a VR headset.

How do you prevent your kids from playing unsafe games on VR?

First, learn how to use parental controls on your VR headsets. The Meta Quest headset, for example, offers parents controls that can be set via an app on your phone.

Here are steps you can take to help keep multiplayer VR gaming safer.

  • Download the VR’s headset app to your phone, go to the parental supervision menu and connect it to the VR headset. If your teen has the headset app downloaded to their phone, they can send you an invitation to connect to their app, or you can send them an invitation from the app on your phone.

  • From the VR headset app on your phone, you can see what games they’re playing, monitor or restrict in-game purchases, and block VR games.

  • From the app on your phone, monitor the amount of time they spend with their multiplayer VR games. As of this writing, you can’t limit how long they can play.

  • Monitor who they play with. From the VR app on your phone, you can see who they’re playing with and who they’ve messaged in the game. However, the friends list only shows usernames, not real names. Ask them if they know who those people are and if they know them in real life. I suggest that younger teens only play with the friends that you both know.

Content and age restrictions are only a guide to help you select age-appropriate games for your child. A game rated E for everyone may not necessarily be safe for every kid.

How to talk to your kids about how to stay safe in multiplayer VR games

You’ve probably talked with your kids about good manners at the dinner table or good sportsmanship on the court. The same rules apply to good gaming sportsmanship in multiplayer VR games. 

  • Explain toxic behavior—such as aggressive behavior or language —and how to deal with toxic people in a multiplayer chat, as your child could encounter aggressive, overly competitive language. 

  • Teach your kids how to use the mute feature so they can mute toxic players in the game itself. They’ll need to apply the mute setting in the game from the headset, not the app.

  • Report inappropriate players. This needs to happen during the game. The other player won’t know they’ve been reported until the game is finished. Reporting a player doesn’t mean they’re banned from a game right away. A person may need to be reported 20 times before they’re banned. It’s all monitored by artificial intelligence, and mistakes happen all time. 

  • Get in the habit of asking them about what happened in the game. They may refuse initially but may come back to talk about it later.

Safe multiplayer VR games for kids

What’s considered an appropriate game varies from family to family. Some of the more popular multiplayer VR games at my house are Fruit Ninja, Beat Saber, Job Simulator, Angry Birds, Gorilla Tag, Rec Room and Roblox.

Set time limits for VR play and balance it with other forms of media and outdoor play. My kids exercise one hour outdoors for every hour they play online. For younger kids, I suggest taking a break every 30 minutes.

How to talk with other parents about what’s safe to play

Ask other parents if they monitor their kids’ VR gaming. Parents often share similar thoughts and may feel overwhelmed when it comes to determining what games are appropriate. Here are tips to start that conversation:

  • Ask parents about their child’s VR gaming habits. Find out what games they allow, how they supervise them and whether they set time limits. Every parent will have their own set of boundaries, and it’s important to start talking about what those are.

  • Talk to parents of kids with older siblings and ask them how they’ve handled it. They’ve already been dealing with these situations and may have some good advice.

  • Talk with your child’s teacher. Schools are teaching kids to identify inappropriate games and how to handle toxic behavior online. Ask how they’re talking with kids about it, and how to bring that conversation to other parents.

Navigating this technological world is a community effort, so reach out to other parents, teachers and mentors for support. It truly takes a village, and it’s only getting more complicated as the technology behind multiplayer VR games advances—and that makes this all the more challenging. But both kids and adults can have a good time with multiplayer VR games, and taking some time to set it up can help ensure a positive experience for your child. And have fun!

Help your child develop healthy habits for their digital life. Check out the Verizon Smart Family app.

About the author:

Ray Pastore, Ph.D., is a professor of Esports and Online Teaching and Learning within the Instructional Technology program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He bridges the realms of scholarship and modern engagement as an accomplished author and YouTuber.


The author has been compensated by Verizon for this article.

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