Online gaming has seen huge innovations in the last decade, shifting the environment from single-player to largely (or massively) multi-player. Now, on both computers and consoles, online gaming is a favorite bonding pastime on the internet. Games can be deceiving; the best of them trick us into caring about each other, and the worse of them turn us into victims.
Are There Risks to Online Gaming?
Risks from online gaming can come from many places. Some online games expose us to cybersecurity threats, none of which can be fixed without proper assistance; these risks include phishing, viruses, and identity theft. Risks, at the worst of times, can lead to losses that affect us, our families, our organizations, and our businesses.
Online Gaming Risks
In the last year alone, more than 384,000 users encountered gaming-related malware online. When over two billion people are playing online, report numbers that small can be misleading; those who would report malware would also be the ones to know how to fix it.  Many do not report malware risks simply because they don’t know how the risks look. Even among “gamers,” only a few might consider themselves particularly tech-savvy.
The following is a short list of common online gaming risks; note the risks are not exclusive to the platform. Not exclusive to a platform means these risks can happen on a computer, phone, or console. However, anyone can learn to recognize the signs and help avoid the risk of becoming a mistake.
Anyone who becomes a community member online must make an account and create a password. The problem is that users need passwords for everything these days and making an account fast is of more concern. Weak passwords are some of the most easily avoided risks in online gaming. To avoid this risk entirely, use a strong password generator and always opt for two-factor authentication.
Phishing is easy to spot; it works by a cybercriminal making realistic emails to recover information about you. Essentially, they create emails that look like they are from reputable companies; they use this disguise to gain anything from passwords to credit card numbers. Avoid this risk by not trusting anything you’re sent—go straight to the source first, and never click on any links in the suspicious content.
Malware and Viruses
“Malware” is short for malicious software. Viruses are a single type of malware. Many types run seamlessly through the internet—these days, many people don’t even realize they have one. They can be dangerous, though, because some can encrypt or delete data or be used to hijack resources. The best way to avoid this is by getting an anti-virus protector on all electronics that can reach the internet.
Cyberbullying occurs at a gradual pace, much like traditional bullying. The difference between them is that conventional bullying is physical and often public. Cyberbullying can be done on a public platform but in a private chat; parents cannot guess their child’s online interactions. Bad games ten times in a row may end with the team’s verbal abuse—but this happening often is cyberbullying. 
The internet is filled with unmentionables; taking steps to keep them hidden from young children should be a priority. Most children will learn about the birds and bees from their friends or parents. If guardians wanted to have “the talk,” they should strongly consider filtering inappropriate content. Use parental controls to keep an eye on things your child searches, sees, and interacts with online.
Online Game Addiction
The fear of online game addiction is manufactured, although the risk of it is real. As many as 60 million people are diagnosed with an online game addiction; that equates to 3-4% of the global gaming population.  This tiny fraction represents instances of the most extreme addicts, not the run-of-the-mill gamer. These people will refuse to shower or eat if it interferes with their game for too long. The best way to avoid this risk is by monitoring minors and offering therapy after trauma.
Online Gaming Safety Tips
The above list indicates only some of the complex horrors of online game risks. They are each terrible in unique ways that distinguish them from other life risks. The only upside is that many people are learning more about computers daily; this means the public is starting to understand these new types of online threats and take proactive measures.
Falling victim to an online risk is mostly a “positive” action; your choices create an additional activity in a particular situation. In other words, users can avoid online dangers by not falling for them. This involves not clicking on them or interacting with them other than blocking their source, if possible.
There are many other things that any gamer can do to increase their safety while online dramatically:
- Keep operating systems and games up to date.
- Use security tools like a password vault and two-step or multi factor verification. 
- Don’t download cheats or third-party modifications.
- Be protective of the personal information you put out.
- Only download from professional sources like Steam or a console store.
- If there are young children in the house, use parental controls.
Exercise Caution with All Online Gaming
Whether you’ve grown up with Atari or recently started gaming, using caution when playing online games is essential; online games are filled with scammers and microtransactions meant to take your money. The suggestions above are some ground-level safety precautions any gamer should take online.