CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — The internet has revolutionized how we live, work, learn and play. Video games expose kids to fantastic new realms where both adventure and danger lie.
As Southern Utah’s “internet people,” the experts at InfoWest aim to provide parents with added peace of mind and guidance through the world of online gaming.
Be SMART, stay safe
Skyler Snarr, marketing specialist for InfoWest, told St. George News that parents should discuss with kids the dangers of sharing too much personal information through gaming servers and chat rooms, even with friends.
“With a lot of these video games, they can interact with the people they’re playing with, a lot of them being strangers,” he said.
With this in mind, InfoWest created the SMART internet safety pledge for parents and kids to take together:
- Safety first: Don’t give out your personal information to people or companies you don’t know.
- Meet and mingle: It’s dangerous to meet up with someone you’ve only had contact with online. Tell someone you trust before meeting.
- Assess before you accept: Accepting emails, files, text and pictures from people you don’t know can be harmful.
- Reliability: Not everything on the internet is truthful. Make sure to check the source of the information before accepting it as fact.
- Talk about it: Tell an adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable.
The InfoWest SMART internet safety pledge is available to download and print here.
The family that plays together, stays (safe) together
Gaming can be a solitary retreat for one child or a positive and entertaining pastime the whole family enjoys, whether everyone’s style is friendly competition or intense battle.
Snarr recalls growing up with classics like Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart, games which can appeal to a wide range of family members.
“The Mario games can bring everyone together,” he said. “Nintendo games are good for kids and families.”
For National Video Games Day on Sept. 12, gather all ages around the computer or gaming system to play, talk, laugh and connect. Besides just being a good idea to bring the family closer, when it comes to online games, playing with your children also gives you a better idea of what kind of content they’re being exposed to.
While gaming can be a fun activity for kids and families, research shows that most people – from younger to older – are spending more hours online than ever, and that uptick in screen time may lead to decreased physical activity, poorer sleep quality and less time spent together.
The experts at InfoWest recommend establishing ground rules for acceptable online behavior with kids and staying involved by monitoring their activity and accounts. Set up a “safety zone” with the computer in a common area where it’s easy to keep an eye on.
With the FamilyFilter service from InfoWest, parents can control access to gaming and set and enforce daily screen time limits.
“Whether it’s video games or social media, it’s easy to get caught up in it and be addicted,” Snarr said. “I think it’s really important for everyone to take a step back and realize what’s truly important in life.”
FamilyFilter also has the ability to block specific websites and content to ensure that everything kids see while browsing online is age-appropriate.
Get the speed you need
Too little bandwidth or too many devices connected at once can take gaming from fun to frustration. Gamers can reduce lag and avoid the dreaded spinning wheel by adding more speed.
“For a lot of people, they’re going to need at least 25-50 megabits per second for a smooth gaming experience, especially if they’re playing online,” Snarr said. “If you have multiple video gaming systems, you’re going to need a lot higher speeds.”
InfoWest provides a simple tool for testing live download and upload speeds from the browser of any device.
Need to upgrade? InfoWest offers wireless broadband plans to thousands of households across Southern Utah and surrounding regions, with speeds up to 100 Mbps in select areas. Snarr invites families to call their internet experts at 866-463-6937 for a recommendation based upon how many devices are in the household as well as how much time everyone spends gaming and streaming.
Learn more about InfoWest’s products, services and community outreach on their website.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- InfoWest | Telephone: 866-463-6937 | Website.
- St. George: 435 E. Tabernacle St.
- Cedar City: 360 W. 200 North.
- Cedar City: 755 S. Main St., Suite 5.
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