Children and young people like to play with each other and argue in the process – and that is quite normal. These conflicts do not stop at virtual space. Sometimes arguments degenerate into name-calling, hate speech or cyberbullying. What you can do as a parent on the topic of hate among gamers, we explain in this article.
Games are supposed to be fun. Gamers compete against each other in many online games. As in other competitions, there is always one team that wins and at least one that loses. Losing often triggers frustration and anger is taken out on each other. In the process, there are also times when insults are used.
In the process, the difference between fun and seriousness is not always clearly discernible. Rough language, so-called trashtalk, is the order of the day in the gaming scene. However, this gaming language is usually not taken as a personal insult, but determines the tone of conversation. In some conflicts, however, players cross red lines and utter racist or sexist insults, for example. This is called hate speech and is a form of digital violence. This is about the targeted discrimination of people on the net based on one of their characteristics such as gender, skin color, origin or sexual orientation.
One particular feature fosters hatred among gamers: In online spaces, we do not face each other personally. Therefore, it is not easy to recognize how statements from the other person are meant and how one’s own statements are received. Also, things are said thoughtlessly that one would not say to others’ faces. Real people hide behind nicknames, but the anonymity of the Internet sometimes makes you forget that.
Accompany your child in the event of cyberbullying. When children argue, they are often sad afterwards and feel misunderstood. It doesn’t matter whether the conflict takes place online or in real life. After all, the emotions involved are always real. If your child is sad and opens up to you, take your child’s feelings seriously. Answers like “But it’s just a game!” or “Don’t play it if you’re always going to be mad afterwards.” are not conducive to this. Show understanding and offer your child support: “I’m here for you. Let’s figure out what to do together”. If these events happen again, talk to your child about what he or she can change. However, wait until the anger has passed for the moment.
Ask if your child feels offended by the culture of communication among gamers themselves. Make your child strong against haters and trolls and show them how to fight back online. Educate your child about how to deal with digital violence and point them to help sites like juuuport or Hate Aid. If your child encounters hate and incitement in games, report the account together. It is important for the community of the game that harmful players are reported. Thus, the developer studios can take action and block accounts or exclude them from participating in the chat. Find out what games your child plays and check if there is an option to child-proof the game. For example, individual players can be muted so that your child is no longer a repeated target of nasty hostility.
If you observe your child using violent language yourself, talk to your child in a quiet moment about communication in Games. Clarify which insults are discriminatory and make it clear where you stand on them. Be a role model in your own expression, whether online or offline, and show understanding and interest in your child’s play worlds.