What do I do when my child is the only one who is not allowed to play a popular game?

When your child feels left out or excluded, it can be a difficult problem to manage. As a parent, your natural instinct is to try to help and correct the situation, but this is not always a simple fix, particularly if you have made a conscious decision not to let your child play a popular game because you want to keep them safe.

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Written by Cyber Expert:

Jordan Foster

Clinical Child Psychologist

Everyone wants to feel that they belong. As adults, we seek a sense of community and connection by being part of a group, and this is no different for our children. Discussion in the classroom or playground can often turn to internet gaming interests, where children may talk about meeting up online to play games together. 

For parents, it's challenging to be on the end of "I'm the only one not allowed to play 'said' game." but having a family tech agreement in place certainly helps.  If your child is not allowed to play something online, it's likely because you've researched the game and its associated risks and based your decision on its unsuitability and safety concerns. Helping your child stay cyber safe is not always easy, especially when they're facing significant peer pressure from friends. Be confident in your decision! It's rare for any parent to reflect and say, "Gee, I wish I'd let my child start gaming earlier!" It's also unlikely your child is the only one not allowed to play the game you've banned, even though they may feel that way. Rest assured, this is a problem that many parents face, so you’re not alone. 

How to talk to your child about your decision

We advise speaking to your child about the thought process behind your decision. Children of this age are generally at the stage of understanding reasoning; however, it's still important to discuss with them in a non-threatening way why you have come to your decision using age-appropriate examples. Ask them how they feel about this and talk about other options such as games you would allow or alternative non-tech activities. 

What else can I do?

Consider rallying the support of like-minded parents to delay access to certain games. For example, you could say something like, "We don't feel comfortable letting our child play 'said game' due to its violent content. Do you think we could all hold off on allowing access to this game until they've reached the recommended age?" We also recommend asking your child's school for support. Encourage an interest in activities away from technology and help your child to foster friendships within those pursuits.

Important considerations

  • Making tough decisions for our children is not always easy.

  • Consider gaining the support of other parents to collectively hold off on games that are not recommended or age-inappropriate. 

  • Don't give in to pressure. Stick to your decision and put your child's safety above their need to fit in. 

  • Keep up the conversation with your child. Talk to them about how they're feeling and continue to empower them to come up with other suggestions for moving on and increasing resilience. 

  • Remember that it's ok for your child to be upset with your decision to have firm boundaries regarding online safety. 

  • Always research using reliable sources to discover everything you can about the game so you can make educated and informed decisions.

  • Be mindful that if you give in and go against your better judgment, it can set a precedent for other unsuitable online games. Parenting is not a popularity contest!

Further reading

Roblox

What parents need to know

Setting a digital agreement

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