From recess to multiplayer games: The new school rules of sportsmanship

By: Sarah Kimmel Werle

Help your children understand that there are people on the other side of those usernames.

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You know the phrase, the more things change the more they stay the same? Well, that is absolutely true when it comes to playing games. When you were a kid and you were playing on the school grounds, if you had been taught properly, you tried to live by some rules of sportsmanship. Otherwise, the other kids might not want to play with you.

Online gaming has certainly shifted the playing field, but a lot of the same playground rules still apply. Online gaming sportsmanship presents a different problem though. On the playground, poor sports might be pulled aside by a teacher or other adults who could make sure the rules are being followed. Online, the other players might be strangers and there can be very little adult oversight.

This is why it’s extremely important to talk to your kids about sportsmanship in online gaming—especially since the industry is still growing. They need to understand some ground rules prior to being allowed to play with others online. To start the conversation, create a contract that spells out various gaming sportsmanship rules—along with rules about never giving out personal information online—that you both sign, and hold them accountable if or when you find that rules have been broken.

The most important thing is to make sure your children understand that there are people on the other side of those usernames. It can be difficult for a kid to understand this concept. Help them figure it out by asking them to picture some of their school friends playing the game with them. If they wouldn’t say or do something directly to their face, maybe they shouldn’t do it online either.

Once your child understands that there are real people playing the game with them, you can start a conversation about the new rules of gaming sportsmanship for online gaming.

Here are some ground rules and conversational points to use when talking with your kid:

Rule 1: Watch your language.

Gamers come in all different ages, shapes, colors and backgrounds. The joy of playing the game is what brought you all together. Keeping the swear words out of the conversation can allow gamers of all ages to enjoy the game. Even when adults are playing the game, they might be playing with their children nearby. They don’t want someone they are playing with to shout a swear word for their kids to overhear. Keeping the cursing out allows everyone to have a good time, regardless of how they feel about swearing.

Rule 2: No cheating.

You might think that cheating could be kept to a minimum when there’s a computer involved, but for some games it can be more rampant than ever. Mods can be installed on gaming systems or computers to give a player an unfair advantage over others. A “mod” is essentially a modification to the game. When users are able to manipulate bugs in the game, or otherwise modify the underlying components of the game, it can give them extra abilities, items or even unlimited life. Just like when someone cheats in real life, it makes for a poor experience for the rest of the players. If you do want to play around with mods and other ways to give your character a boost, just make sure you aren’t playing with others online.

Rule 3: Teaming up is OK, but don’t gang up.

Even in games that have an individual winner like Fortnite, friends can team up and get rid of all the competition until it is a fight to the death among the remaining friends. This behavior is definitely acceptable and can be a lot of fun for friends to enjoy together.

Where this takes a turn to the shady side is when players gang up on a single individual and bully them or otherwise pick on them until they leave or lose the game. The golden rule applies here: You wouldn’t want everyone in the game to gang up on you, so don’t do it to someone else. If there is a genuine problem with a user (like they are cheating), then report the player and move on.

Rule 4: Report bad behavior.

This is a great way to help weed out some of the bad sports. Since online gaming can connect people from all over the world, there will be some bad apples in the bunch. These people might break every rule on this list, or they may be acting inappropriately, like asking others for private information or sharing inappropriate content.

Reporting these users can get them banned from the game. It’s important to report actual bad behavior, but don’t report people just because you don’t like them. Getting banned can be permanent, and to use that as a method to remove people who beat you or did something in the game to make you mad could end up getting you banned once the admins look into the issue.

Rule 5: Don’t chatter endlessly.

Finally, everyone just wants to play the game. They don’t need a sports commentary, endless trash talk, or to hear you yelling at your sister. Chatting with the other players can be half the fun, and when one player is dominating the conversation it can be off-putting for the rest of the group. Make sure that what you are saying is actually adding to the conversation or increasing the enjoyment of the game, with the occasional friendly joke or taunt here and there. Just keep it clean!

Have a great time!

The new rules of online gaming sportsmanship are obviously pretty closely related to the playground rules you had as a kid. Following these rules will make playing games with you so much more enjoyable. That’s why everyone is online playing the game—to have fun,—so make sure to keep it fun!

Learn the  five ways 5G can transform the future of gaming and play on!

About the author(s):

Sarah Kimmel Werle is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their homes. She also gives quick tech tips daily on her Instagram account @FamilyTech.

 

The author has been compensated by Verizon for this article.

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