If you are among parents who let their child surf through app distribution platforms (such as App Store and Google Play) and download whichever games they like, you might be risking your child’s safety. The games your child downloads may not be appropriate for their age. Besides, they might put your child’s personal data at risk. Some of these games are hotbeds for child abusers. Therefore, to protect your child, we suggest lending a hand to your child in selecting safe mobile games for kids.
This article will tell you what to look for when selecting a safe mobile game for children. We’ll explain what risks your child is exposed to when playing inappropriate games downloaded from unreliable resources and how to keep them safe. We’ll also introduce some safe mobile games for kids of all ages.
What Risks is Your Child Exposed to When Downloading & Playing Games?
App Store doesn’t allow children under 14, and Google Play doesn’t allow children under 13 to download applications. However, not all children go by the rule. They sometimes fake their ages or use third-party app distribution platforms. When children use third-party app distribution platforms (which are quite a few), they first and foremost risk infecting their devices with malware. Other than that, they are exposed to a plethora of untrusted mobile games.
Here is a list of issues with untrusted mobile games that may put children’s safety at risk:
- Age-Inappropriate Content (Violence & Sex)
- In-App Purchases
- In-App Chat
- Data Collection
Some parents do not take these issues as serious safety risks. In the following lines, we will explain why they’re, in fact, serious issues.
Games on official app distribution platforms are rated according to the age group suggested by developers and platform moderators. They receive an age rate based on their subject, gameplay difficulty, and content. Games rated ALL or E have content suitable for all ages. Those rated 12+, 15+, or T usually contain some violence or nudity. Games rated 18+ are suitable for adults.
Younger children are more susceptible to violent content. Therefore, you should stop your child from downloading and playing games which are not recommended for their age.
Purchased games do not contain ads, but most free ones do. Showing ads to users is one of the ways developers make money out of their products. However, ads can be harmful to children for four reasons. Firstly, they propel children into spending money on products they may not need. Secondly, they may promote other games that are not appropriate for young children. Thirdly, they sometimes show nude pictures and videos intending to lure the older audience into clicking links. Lastly, they may share links that lead to phishing pages.
For the reasons mentioned above, we suggest advising your child not click these ads in the first place and, secondly, to select trusted games that don’t show inappropriate ads.
In-app purchases are another way developers monetise their games. Children can buy items for their avatars or unlock levels in some games by paying money. These purchases usually require a small amount of money, but when they pile up, they can be significant.
On top of spending too much, purchases may act as a wrong role model for children. If the games require paying money in order to advance to higher levels, they could promote a ‘pay-to-win’ mindset, meaning that you must always spend money to grow in life.
Some communicative games offer an in-app chat feature allowing children to send messages or voice chat with their peers. This feature is meant to help children build teams and plan out strategies. However, predators take advantage of it to abuse children. These people may be adults or peers who send children vulgar, derogatory, or sexual words or try to groom or cyberbully them.
Some games allow users to deactivate the in-app chat function, while others don’t. It is up to parents to help children download games that create a safe environment for children by moderating in-app messages.
Most games collect user data for gameplay or to show related ads. However, some of them may be dangerous malware undercover that steal personal data. So, you should be careful about the important information your child shares with games, such as credit card credentials.
To sustain your child’s safety, we suggest banning your child from downloading unknown games from untrusted platforms. You can block these platforms using Safes (we will explain how later in this article).
5 Safe Mobile Games for Kids of All Ages
Here, we’ve listed 5 safe games for kids of all ages. They’re organised according to their age rate from the lowest to the highest. You can download them on App Store, Google Play or other trusted app distribution platforms.
Toca Life is a series of games for pre-schoolers. Using Toca Life, children can create their own colourful world with multiple characters and stories that the game offers. For example, they can adopt and train a pet or build a hair salon.
Almost all the games in the Toca Life series, such as Toca Life: Pets and Toca Life: City, should be purchased. Although one of them, called Toca Life World, is free. However, in-app purchase options are included in the game, which you can deactivate in the settings.
Toca Life doesn’t show ads or inappropriate content and doesn’t have an in-app chatting feature. It’s available on Android and iOS devices.
Pokémon was first released on Nintendo game consoles in 1996 and later adapted into a popular anime series. Chances are you’re already familiar with the characters and atmosphere of the game. Pokémon Playhouse gathers the familiar Pokémon characters in a mobile game for pre-schoolers. Children can groom and take care of their favourite characters and explore various locations.
Pokémon Playhouse is free to play but contains in-app purchases, which can be turned off by parents. It doesn’t have in-app chatting and doesn’t show ads. It’s available on Android and iOS devices.
MentalUP Educational Games
MentalUP offers a variety of educational games for children from pre-school to tweens. These games boost children’s brainpower through memory training, critical thinking, decision-making, and many other brain-cognitive games.
MentalUP contains no ads and no in-app chatting. It’s not a free game but offers a 7-day free trial. To continue playing, you need to purchase subscription plans. MentalUP is available on Android and iOS devices.
The Sims Mobile
The Sims is a famous game first released in 2000 on PCs. The gameplay hasn’t changed in The Sims Mobile. Chances are you played The Sims when you were a child. But if you haven’t, The Sims is, in short, a game of life. Children can create human characters called Sims, feed them, teach them, help them grow up, and continue until they’re old and finally die. Sims can build houses, purchase items, make families, adopt pets, interact with other Sims, and do many other activities.
The Sims Mobile is limited to children above 12 years old due to implying (not showing) sexuality. Children can play The Sims Mobile on Android and iOS devices for free; however, in-app purchases are included. The Sims Mobile doesn’t show ads and doesn’t have in-app chatting.
Fortnite is a popular Play Station game for teens. The gameplay on the mobile version is the same: It involves picking avatars and engaging in survival combats. Since Fortnite contains violence and in-app chat, it’s suggested for 13+ children. Fortnite is a free app but doesn’t show ads; in return, it has in-app purchases.
The in-app chat may pose a safety risk for younger children; however, you can turn it off in the app settings.
How Can Safes Make Your Child’s Gaming Safer?
As explained earlier, as a parent, you need to take responsibility for your child’s safety while playing games on mobile phones. However, Safes can help you in this matter. Safes is a parental control app that enables parents to monitor and control how their children use their mobile devices and the internet. Safes comes with comprehensive features that can make your child’s gaming safer. These features include:
- Screen Time Monitoring
- Screen Time Schedules
- Screen Time Profiles
- Instant Block (Device Pause)
- Bedtime Mode
- App Blocking
- Web Blocking
- Keyword Blocking
- Activity Report
Below we’ll explain how each of Safes’ features can help you sustain your child’s safety while playing games.
Screen Time Monitoring
Screen time is the time you spend working with smart devices with a screen, such as mobile phones. OSF Healthcare advises parents not to expose their infants under 2 years old to screens except for video calling with family and friends. It recommends less than 1 hour of screen time per day for children between 2-5. If further suggests a maximum of 2 hours of screen time for older children except for doing homework.
To keep your child’s screen time within the safe limit, we suggest using the Safes screen time monitoring tool. With Safes, you can set time limits for a group of apps or each app individually. When your child reaches the limit, the app will automatically shut down.
Screen Time Schedule
With Safes, you can set screen time limits for different days of the week. That means you may let your child play games more on the weekends and less on the weekdays. The schedule will repeat each week automatically.
Screen Time Profile
You can make a screen time profile for special days of the week. For example, you may create a screen time plan for holidays and vacations. You don’t need to remove your weekly schedule and set it back again. You can simply turn the profile on and off.
Instant Block (Device Pause)
You can use the instant block or device pause feature when your child is overusing a game and doesn’t listen to you asking them to lay their phones off. You can pause your child’s device with a click on the Safes app on your phone. Their device would only work for sending SMS and making phone calls.
Due to the addictive nature of games, children usually prefer to play for hours if they remain undisturbed. This issue, however, can make children stay up after bedtime playing games. If this is the case with your child, you may want to try Safes’ bedtime mode feature.
Bedtime mode works the same way as the instant block, except you can set your child’s phone to pause at a specific time at night.
With geofence, you can select a geographical area and apply certain rules to it. Using the GPS on your child’s phone, Safes will apply the rules you have specified when your child enters that area. For example, if you don’t want your child to play games while at school, you can select the school and block all the games. When your child enters the school, the games will stop working.
The app blocking feature can ban dangerous or inappropriate games on your child’s phone. If you don’t want your child to download any games at all, you can block Google Play or App Store.
If you don’t want your child to play untrusted games online or access untrusted app distribution platforms over the web, you can block their access. Safes has made lists of inappropriate websites in different genres _games included_ which you can select to block. You can add websites of your own or make exceptions to the list.
Like web blocking, Safes has made lists of inappropriate search keywords that you can block on your child’s phone. If there’s a particular game you don’t want your child to search for (which is not on the list), you can add the game’s name to the list of blocked keywords.
Safes send you daily, weekly, and monthly reports on your child’s phone use. Using these reports, you’d be able to tell if your child is overusing a game. You can also see if your child has downloaded new games. If you find the newly downloaded games inappropriate, you can block them. If there’s any game your child is overusing, you can restrict it.
Concluding Safe Mobile Games for Kids of All Ages
Mobile games may look harmless to many parents, but games downloaded from unreliable app distribution sources may harm your child’s phone or steal their private data. On the other hand, not all games are appropriate for all ages. On official app distribution platforms, games are age rated. Those rated 12+ and 15+ may include violent or sexual content inappropriate for younger children. Ads, in-app purchases, in-app chat, and data collection are other essential issues to keep in mind when selecting safe mobile games for kids.
Safes parental control app can help you in creating a safe gaming experience for your child. With Safes, you can monitor and restrict your child’s screen time, internet use, and the games installed on their phone.