With the increase in entertainment facilities on mobile devices, including music, video and gaming, it is becoming more common for children to be given mobile devices, either permanently or for a short while to keep them occupied, and usage of these devices can often be unrestricted, unsupervised and unmonitored. With games in particular there are risks you need to consider in order that you can make a more informed decision regarding the online safety of your child.
When you go to the cinema or buy a movie from a shop there is often parental guidance ratings to help you make an informed choice however, whilst it is beginning to emerge, there is still very little found on computer based games and even less so on casual mobile games. With little parental guidance on offer for games you need to thoroughly check the content of an intended application so you can make your own assessment of its suitability, for your child, prior to allowing children to play.
Free casual games in particular, such as those available from mobile vendor application stores, which are often advertising supported should be treated cautiously as the included advertising is often either quite subtle or designed to attract the players attention which means a child could access services that were unexpected and potentially unsafe. Activating a click through service could be a simple action of clicking an icon or, on more recent mobile devices, just touching a specified area of the touch screen.
An increasing number of games, including those found on mobile phones, are being supported by phone dialling advertisements which, when activated, dial a destination number which, again, potentially puts your child into unexpected situations such as direct contact with unknown people.
In-game advertising is big business and helps support the developers and publishers of games – but the developers often have little say, or control, in the advertising materials which appear as a result of including the hooks for the advertisers code – this advertising material can include text phrases, images, sounds and videos and lead to web based links, hidden features, or other actions.The advertising doesn’t just appear at the start of the game either. Interstitial ads can appear between levels of a game whilst leader-boards and ranking tables at the end of a game may also include advertising potential.
To be safe you should check games carefully and seek any developer documentation in order that you can make an informed choice as to the suitability of an application for your child.