What Are Steam Games?

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What Are Steam Games?

January 4, 2019
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Table of Contents

Similar to iTunes, Steam is an online gaming platform where users can buy and play video games. Users get instant access to thousands of games that are available on Steam. Most Steam games can be purchased but some are free to play. Although the games have age requirements, it’s easy for students to bypass the age restrictions. Some parents warn that it can be easy for younger students to be scammed into an unfair deal when trading items. So if your family uses Steam, familiarize yourself with the parental controls offered (called “Steam Family View”).

Watch this Parent Guide as a video:

What is Steam?

  • Similar to iTunes, Steam is an online distribution where users can buy and play video games
  • Users get instant access to thousands of games that are available on Steam. Most games can be purchased and some games are free to play.
  • Steam offers users access to their community which functions like a social network
  • The Steam platform runs on PC, Mac, or Linux box
  • Users can link their mobile device or smart television to their computer to play remotely (while the computer does the heavy computing)
  • The Cross-Platform Multiplayer feature allows users to play together from any device
  • Players have access to in-game voice and text chat
  • When users sign up, they download Steam’s “engine” which runs the games
  • Users can trade games, trading cards, and in-game items with other players
  • Games are rated by age on the Steam platform
  • Users create a username on Steam. It’s common for users to share their username with others so that they can be discovered

Why should parents care?

  • Steam offers parental controls called “Steam Family View” which prevents younger users from purchasing/downloading games without having to enter a designated pin
  • Although the games have age requirements, it’s easy for students to bypass the age restrictions
  • Mature content exists on Steam
  • It can be possible for younger players to get scammed into an unfair deal when trading items on the platform
  • Although it’s rare, some downloads may contain viruses

Steam in the News:

The online game store Steam canceled the release of a role-playing game called Active Shooter, in which players attack a school… But far from backing away from controversial games entirely, Steam has now decided to ‘allow everything’ on its platform, it said on Wednesday, carving out disqualifying exceptions only for content it finds to be ‘illegal, or straight-up trolling.’ –NY Times
There are almost 20,000 games for sale in the Steam marketplace, but some of the highest-earning titles are actually available for free, including 3 of the top 12. –Business Insider

Popular Steam games:

  • Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (similar to Fortnite)
  • The Elder Scrolls
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
  • The Witcher Wild Hunt
  • Fallout 4
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Skyrim

Teen video game statistics:

  • Students addicted to video games have lower academic grades than their non-addicted peers
  • More than eight-in-ten teens (84%) say they have a game console at home or have access to one

Sources: TechAddiction.ca and Pew Research Center

The dangers of online gaming:

Video games work hard to hook players. Designers use predictive algorithms and principles of behavioral economics to keep fans engaged… Now, the World Health Organization is saying players can actually become addicted. A study published in 2009 in Psychological Science found that about 8.5% of American youth from 8 to 18 years old exhibited pathological video game use. Video gaming was affecting important parts of their lives such as school performance. Sources: NY Times and Forbes

What parents says about Steam:

Be very careful. My son was scammed out of over $1,000 of add-ons from his Cs:go account. He is very bright and has done lots of trades. People are now able to go through Steam’s site or to easily replicate it (we’re not sure which) to do this. Customer service didn’t do anything.

Source: Common Sense Media

What can parents do?

  • Before giving your children access to Steam, set up your own account and become familiar with the platform. Then, decide if it is safe for your family to use
  • Set up parental controls through Steam Family View and set the appropriate restrictions for your child
  • Consider setting your student’s account to “private” to prevent them from receiving messages from strangers
  • Do not let your children play Steam without supervision. Be involved so that you can monitor their activity and keep them safe
  • Set guidelines around gaming, e.g.:
  • Time limits
  • Decide what games are safe to play
  • What games are safe to download
  • Who your child can play or chat with
  • Always play the games with your students to learn how the games work
  • Don’t rely solely on Steam Family View to protect your children on the platform
  • Have discussions with your children about balancing screen time with offline activities that can help them build a positive future

Conclusion

Similar to iTunes, Steam is an online distribution platform for users to buy and play video games. Users get instant access to thousands of games that are available on Steam. Most games can be purchased and some games are free to play. Although the games have age requirements, it’s easy for students to bypass the age restrictions. Some parents warn that it can be easy for younger students to be scammed into an unfair deal when trading items. So if your family uses Steam, familiarize yourself with the parental controls offered (called “Steam Family View”). Do not let your children play Steam without supervision. Be involved so that you can monitor their activity and keep them safe. It' also important for parents to play games with their children to learn how the games work and if they are safe for your family.

Do your kids use Steam? If so, what are your best tips for keeping them safe when gaming? Let us know in the comments below!

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