One in four parents expect children to play online games for at least SEVEN hours a day during holidays

As the half-term break approaches in the UK, new research from Visa reveals that nearly a quarter of parents of children who play online games (23%) expect them to play for seven or more hours per day during the school holidays.

The festive period proved a popular time for game consoles. Of the one in ten who purchased a device in the last three months, 78% did so for Christmas or during a sale. The top reasons for buying a games console are that they were top of their child’s gift list (43%), they didn’t want their child to feel left out (24%), and that it’s a good way for their child to socialise with friends (23%).


When it comes to feeling confident in protecting their children online, 56% of parents say they don’t feel up to date with how different online platforms work. Also high on the list of worries are the potential their children may be scammed while playing online (62%).

Other concerns include:

  • The amount of time their child spends playing online games (64%)
  • Their children being contacted by potential fraudsters via an online game (60%)
  • Whether their children are not spending enough face-to-face time with their friends due to playing online games (55%)

What’s more, some parents are unaware of the potential risks, with 38% saying that they didn’t know it was possible for their child to be defrauded by someone via an online game, and almost a third (32%) saying they didn’t know how this could happen.


To further empower parents and children to keep safe whilst playing online games, Visa has teamed up with Lloyds Bank and Ukie to help the whole family feel confident when it comes to playing games online.

According to Ukie, parents and carers are advised to protect their children by setting up parental controls and child accounts on their console so they can monitor spending, set time limits, control chat and messaging features and use content filters. Families should also encourage open conversations about online safety so young people can continue to have positive digital experiences as part of everyday life.

Visa finds that over a quarter of parents with children who play online games (27%) have taken up, or considered taking up, playing themselves to better understand how it works, feeling it’s a good way to help their children stay safe. Two fifths of these parents (39%) say they feel more confident in educating their child about how to keep themselves safe whilst playing games online and a third (33%) feel that the decision to start playing has brought them closer to their child.

To support parents in their journey, Lloyds Bank has developed The Game Players SHIELD Code that encourages players to follow a six-point guide whilst playing to improve their safety:

  1. SCREEN any chats from strangers, as well as unexpected gifts and special edition or time-limited offers. Never transfer money to someone you haven’t met in person.
  2. HIDE personal information from others at all times, concealing your personal details where possible to avoid them being leaked.
  3. INVESTIGATE any gaming-related purchases before handing over money, such as checking whether the website is blacklisted on and only making card payments which offer greater consumer protection.
  4. EVALUATE whether gaming-related downloads are being made from established trusted sources and whether they are safe by checking for malware via
  5. LOCK your gaming network by using password managers, two-factor authentication within platforms and anti-virus software.
  6. DELINK your bank details from gaming and online browser accounts. Having two-factor authentication set up on bank transactions and using prepaid cards will also help to keep your money protected.

If you are targeted by a fraudster, to help others avoid falling victim you can report it to Action Fraud or the National Cyber Security Centre. And if you think you have been defrauded, call your bank and explain the situation – they can often help you claim your money back. To find out more about the protections you have when paying with Visa, click here.


Chris Price