Online gaming is currently experiencing a boom in popularity amongst people of all ages. Gaming is an exciting and engaging way of spending your spare time, providing a platform for communication, and an opportunity to develop motor skills. As games can be expensive, many gamers (oftentimes children) opt to make the most out of free downloads.
Unfortunately, these files tend to be ridden with viruses and malware that can do serious damage to your device. It is therefore in the best interests of parents and children alike that adults play an active role in educating their children regarding the importance of online safety and the dangers posed by online scams.
Continue reading to discover the many different ways in which ‘free downloads’ can in fact, cost far more than expected.
A virus is a form of malware that can cause significant damage to computer and mobile devices. A computer virus can be thought of as a regular virus — it has the ability to replicate itself and is designed to spread between devices.
Viruses usually infiltrate devices via dodgy downloads from malicious websites — like those promising ‘free games’. You might not even realise that your computer is hosting a virus, until you perform an action that instructs the malware to execute its functions. These functions can be anything from tracking your keystrokes (meaning the hacker has access to all of your personal information) to spamming your email contacts.
Adware is a form of software that bombards your device with unwanted advertisements and pop-ups. Clicking on these pop-ups could be harmless, or it could result in nasty malware infiltrating your computer or mobile.
Adware is typically hidden in ‘free downloads’ such as those promising free access to popular games. Symptoms of an adware infection include a slower than normal connection, a device that continuously crashes, applications on your device that you don’t remember installing, and constant ads appearing on your screen.
There’s nothing like stumbling across a great new game — particularly if it is completely free! However, you should always be wary of a game that promises no fees. After all, how are the developers going to make money?
Many “free” games have concealed charges that can quickly add up. Whether this occurs via microtransactions or subscription-to-play payment models, children often don’t understand how such concealed fees operate. If you’re the parent of a gamer-made kid, be sure that you carefully read all of the fine print before letting your child start a new game.
As mentioned, “free game downloads” are often accompanied by nasty viruses and malware that can damage your device. Just one of the ways that these viruses operate is by a practice known as ‘keylogging’.
A keylogger is a type of monitoring software that has the ability to record your keystrokes. Online hackers can then use this information to log into your accounts, stealing your personal and financial information to be sold on the dark web.
Not exactly what you expected when signing up for a free game download, is it?
The best way to ensure your child’s security while playing online games is to go beyond simply monitoring; instead, regularly playing video games with your children can be an excellent way of bonding with them while also making sure they are staying safe online. In addition, security software is non-negotiable to protect your kids from the dangers that accompany free downloads. Play secure and play safe!