You’d be forgiven if you haven’t heard of the game Among Us before. The game, which takes place in a space-themed setting, features four to ten players who have to work together to deduct which one has been given the role of ‘imposter’ – responsible for killing the others. If you’ve ever played the game wink-murder it’s very similar to this concept but in a online setting.
Although it was released in June 2018, Among Us did not emerge as a hit until streamers on Twitch began playing it during the 2020 pandemic lockdowns. As of September 2020, the game exceeded 100 million downloads and its player count rose to 1.5 million players. With celebrities like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez live streaming their sessions on the game, its popularity has soared, particularly with Gen Z.
With many children stuck inside during national lockdowns, Among Us offers a simple and social way to interact with others online. It is also a great way to encourage teamwork, as players need to communicate and work together to suss out the imposter.
What are the safety concerns?
Overall, Among Us is considered to be largely safe for children. In the Apple App store, for example, Among Us has been listed as suitable for ages 9+ and its PEGI rating (the primary way games are rated by age in Europe and Asia) is PEGI 7, meaning the board considers it suitable for young children. Games given this rating are able to show violence but it must be unrealistic and directed towards fantasy characters. As the “imposter” is instructed to take out the Crewmates on the ship, the game does incite violence however, it’s not graphic or pointed towards real people.
Nonetheless, there are certain aspects of the game parents should be more wary about. This is largely due to the fact that apart from a censor option to remove bad language, there are no inbuilt safety features in the game. To censor the chatroom click on the gear button at the bottom of the screen to go to the Settings. Then select the Censor Chat button to enable the censorship filter.
Contact with strangers
Each time Among Us is played the game can be set to be either public or private, with the host of each game controlling this setting. If a game is private, other users will require a specific code to play the game alongside the host.
If the game is public however, any user on the platform will be able to find the game under the “public” section and join the game (provided the number of players is less than the capacity of ten). This could mean that they meet and chat with people they don’t know, which may put them at risk. We advise you to remind your child not to share their personal information if they are playing publicly, to avoid the chance they reveal something private.
If a player starts to cause problems, only the host can remove them from the game. It is therefore important to teach your child that if they are the host of the game, they will need to be even more vigilant about what players are saying or doing and that they need to remove anyone that is not respecting others or sharing inappropriate content.
As with any shared activities online, cyberbullying can also become a problem. Sitting down with your child and teaching your child how to recognise and cope in these instances is recommended. There are also some great resources about cyberbullying here.
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