Overwatch: 2022 Parent Guide

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June 21, 2022

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This Overwatch video game guide will help VIP members learn:

  • What is Overwatch and why do students want to play the video game?
  • What are the dangers of playing Overwatch?
  • What can parents do to keep their students safer while playing Overwatch?
  • What should parents talk to students about?

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

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This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.

This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
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This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. SmartSocial.com keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.

Table of Contents

Overwatch is an online, multiplayer first-person “hero shooter” game that is incredibly popular with students.

Kids love playing Overwatch because as long as a player keeps playing the game, they will earn more rewards - this is a form of gamification that encourages kids to play more and more. Overwatch only works if players are matched onto teams with other real people which means that your child will be exposed to strangers in every Overwatch game.

Overwatch parent video

What you'll learn in this video lesson

(Click on the three lines or a blue dot in video progress bar to skip to a chapter)

  1. What is Overwatch?
  2. Overwatch statistics
  3. Overwatch as pop-culture
  4. Family tips for Overwatch

What is Overwatch?

  • Overwatch is an online, team based shooter game designed to be played with strangers - there is no solo-play mode
  • The game assigns players into two teams of six that “travel the world, build a team, and contest objectives in exhilarating 6v6 combat” (Source: Overwatch)
  • Players choose their character (called ‘heroes’) from 30 options. Each character has unique weapons and capabilities
  • The players on a team work together to secure and defend certain places on a map or escort a payload across the map during a limited amount of time
  • Players earn rewards as they play the game that do not affect gameplay, like victory poses and character skins
  • Overwatch is available on Windows (via Battle Net), Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch
  • The game has a bright and cartoonish animation style, similar to Fortnite
  • Players can buy loot boxes using real money to get character skins which alter the appearance of their characters
Teen ESRB rating
  • Overwatch is owned by Blizzard Entertainment
  • Overwatch is rated T Teen by the ESRB
  • ~Blood
  • ~Use of Tobacco
  • ~Violence
  • ~Users Interact
  • ~In-Game Purchases

Why do students like playing Overwatch?

  • Regardless of whether or not players win a match, they gain experience towards a player level
  • When players go up a level, they receive loot boxes that contain items that can be used to customize the appearance of the hero characters
  • As long as a player keeps playing the game, they will earn more rewards - this is a form of gamification that encourages kids to play more and more

Overwatch in the news

Racism, misogyn, death threats: why can't the booming video-game industry curb toxicity?
Unlike a game of pickup basketball, however, online games will match-make teams out of random players, identifiable only by pseudonyms, thereby giving strangers a direct channel to another player’s headset via the game’s voice chat. ‘It certainly looks like the effect on adolescents and children in general is quite negative,’ said  [the] head of pediatric mental health at Louisiana State University. ‘There’s a higher incidence of depression.’

Washington Post

Blizzard responds to video of wildly racist incident in Overwatch game
In a video the unfiltered and unchecked nature of Overwatch’s toxic voice chat has been shown in full force. The clip portrays an incident where the player was ganged up on and bullied by a group of obscenely racist and prejudiced ‘teammates’ during an Overwatch game.

Daily eSports

Why should parents care?

  • Overwatch only works if players are matched onto teams with other real people, exposing your student to strangers in every game
  • This means that your child will be exposed to strangers in every game when they play Overwatch
  • Playing with strangers is a huge red flag that quickly connects your students to potential predators
  • When your kids play multiplayer games while wearing headsets, they’re a million miles away - even if you’re sitting in the same room as them
  • Students who chat on multiplayer games are easily exposed to inappropriate language and bullying behavior
  • In the past, the developers have been criticized for over-sexualizing characters and promoting cultural stereotypes
  • There are reports of the community becoming increasingly toxic and negative
  • Overwatch is incredibly popular with more than 5 million players a month (Source: Active Player) and is considered “one of the best games of all time” by critics
  • Students don't only like playing Overwatch online, but often spend additional time watching others play the game or engage with other players on other apps/websites like Discord and Twitch

What can parents do?

  • Before allowing your student to access a new game, review the ESRB rating, download the game, and spend some time using it for yourself, then determine if the game is safe for your family
  • ~Ask your student to teach you about the game and to frequently show you what they enjoy about playing it to help you understand their interests and the dangers
  • ~Engage with your students about their progress and ask what skills they used to accomplish each achievement
  • If you determine it’s safe for your student to play Overwatch, work together with your student to set an amount of time to play before they start playing
  • ~Consider using a visual timer, like an egg timer or phone timer, to track how much time your child has left to play
  • Set up parental controls through the Blizzard website:
  • ~Work as a family to decide what settings your family uses to get student buy-in to the limitations from the start
  • ~Set daily or weekly time limits or create a schedule for play
  • ~Receive a weekly email play time report (and review the report with your students based on the time goal they have helped set)
  • ~Enable or disable in-game purchases
  • Include time students spend on social media talking about the game or watching others play (Learn more about these popular gaming social media apps: Discord and Twitch)
  • Encourage students to not interact with strangers in live play
  • ~Teach students to never share personal information, including other social media accounts or email addresses with strangers online or in games
  • ~Discuss with your students to never meet up with someone they met online in another (private) messaging app or in person
  • Always monitor your kids during game time - it’s even better when parents play the game with their children
  • Keep gaming consoles in the living room so you can easily supervise game time
  • Say no to headsets. Headsets leave students vulnerable to connecting with strangers
  • Remind your student that if they ever see or hear something that makes them uncomfortable they should talk to a parent or another trusted adult
  • Gaming disorder is considered a mental health condition. Look out for any warning signs that your child is addicted to video games:
  • ~Impaired control over gaming (e.g. onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context)
  • ~Increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities
  • ~Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences

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Conclusion

Due to the fact that players need to communicate with strangers in order to be successful in the game, we do not recommend it for students. When students wear headsets while gaming it's nearly impossible for parents to monitor them - even if they're in the same room. While Overwatch's animation style is bright and cartoonish like Fortnite, that doesn't mean it is safe for students. We recommend that parents always monitor their kids during game time and keep an eye out for any warning signs that they are becoming addicted to gaming.


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Overwatch: 2022 Parent Guide

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