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Children can sometimes be heard discussing, playing or re-enacting content they have seen on YouTube or games such as Roblox. We urge parents to be fully aware of what children are accessing when using the internet by supervising your children at all times when using internet devices. Children quite often tell us their older siblings watch it and that's where they have seen it.
What are the risks?
There are multiple risks that can arise from children and young people being exposed to frightening content before they are prepared.
* Added anxiety and stress – Children and young people are still growing and learning. They may not be at a level of emotional maturity that would be able to process frightening content, even if it is intentional. Horror games could hamper that growth by creating unnecessary anxiety and stress.* Intrusive thoughts – Everyone has the 'thing that goes bump in the night.' If children play this game or watch it, the Boogeyman could easily be replaced with characters like Huggy Wuggy. This could cause children to lose focus or sleep and could interrupt family rest cycles.
* New fears – The manipulation of child-friendly items into threatening characters exploits the sense of security a child would feel around these things. They may suddenly be terrified of something that had never been a worry before.
* Believing the content, they see or hear is real life. Children of preschool age are learning to distinguish between what is real and what isn't.
What can you do?
* Parental controls can be used to block upsetting or harmful content, control in-app purchases or manage how long your child spends online.
* Talking to your child - openly and regularly - is the best way to help keep them safe online. You might find it helpful to start with a family discussion to set boundaries and agree what's appropriate.
* Check internet history regularly to be sure of what content your child is accessing.
* Explore sites and apps together; talk about what might be acceptable for children of different ages,
* Ask about things they might see online which make them feel uncomfortable, sad or scared and how to tell an adult.
Some popular games and site's to be aware of:
Roblox: Roblox is one of the most popular video games on the market. Roblox offers a huge amount of creative freedom, where players can build custom levels and interact with other players. The could expose children to risks such as scammers, online predetors and harassement. You are able to set parental controls, disable private messaging and use private servers for friends only.
Minecraft: Another platform for building and creating own worlds, with the possibility of interacting with online players. This also poses risks of 'griefing' which means when someone takes delight in purposefully damaging or destroying another persons creation, it is a form of bullying. There are also scary elements to Minecraft for younger players, such as zombie and skeleton 'baddies'.
Poppy Playtime is a horror game that involves the player investigating a mystery in an abandoned toy factory. As the player, you roam around the factory and collect VHS tapes to solve the mystery of what happened. You must solve puzzles while trying to survive the "vengeful toys" left behind. "Huggy Wuggy" is one of the game's most popular – and visually disturbing – characters. It's a giant, horrifying blue creature with bulging eyes, wide red lips, and long limbs who actively follows you around as you try to complete the game. He appears in the dark unexpectedly to try and catch you. If you get caught, Huggy Wuggy bears his wide and sinister grin and eats you. Other characters including Mommy Long Legs and Kissy Missy. Like Huggy Wuggy, these new characters have arguably 'innocent' names that may sound child-friendly but could be visually disturbing and upsetting for children.Squid Game is originally a tv series where characters are systematically tortured and killed for the sadistic pleasure of a game master. More recently children have been exposed to this through YouTubers posting their own versions of the show or playing squid games themselves.
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