It seems like every time you turn around there’s a new game that your kids are playing online. Have you heard about Among Us? It’s been soaring in popularity over the past few months. There’s a chance your child could be playing it, but is the new game safe?
What Is Among Us?
Among Us is a real-time, science fiction game for multiple players. It starts when 4-10 players get dropped into an alien spaceship where they prepare for takeoff. The players are either “crewmates” or imposters.”
The crewmates’ job is to finish tasks on the ship while the imposters try to catch and kill them. When someone is killed and their body is found, a meeting is called. The crewmates vote on who they think the imposter is and that person gets eliminated from the game.
But, it doesn’t end there. Those who are eliminated can stay and help their teammates as “ghosts.”
Crewmates can win the game by finishing all their tasks before they’re killed or by finding and eliminating all the imposters. The imposters can win by having a sabotage countdown run out or by killing enough crewmates so that the number of imposters is equal to the number of crewmates.
The game launched in 2018, but never really got off the ground. Diana Graber, founder of CyberWise and Cyber Civics, tells Parentology that all changed when the pandemic hit.
“With so many people home and bored during COVID-19, the game became instantly popular thanks to the pandemic and because of some gaming influencers who talked it up,” says Graber. She tells Parentology that people love this game right now because they can play it with their friends, which is important these days.
The game is free on mobile devices for Android and iOS users, or you can pay $4.99 on Steam. Games typically last between 10-15 minutes, versus other games that can go on for hours. This can give your child a screentime break when needed.
The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) recommends that players are 10 or older to play while the Apple App Store makes it available to those ages 9 and over. The Pan European Game Information (PEGI) originally gave it a rating of 16+, but has changed that to 7 and over.
Those ages are guidelines for the proper age, but only you can decide if the game is appropriate for your child.
“Keep in mind there is violence in the game — albeit, cartoonish — that many families find inappropriate for their children, especially young ones,” says Graber.
Since the game also involves lying and finding liars, kids should be old enough to understand the difference between lying in a game and lying in real life and the consequences, advises Graber.
Are There Privacy Issues?
It’s important to know that the game app does collect personal data. That feature can be disabled for a $2 fee. Likewise, the game is frequently played with a voice chatting app, but players can censor the chat to block out profanity.
“You can also require that your kids use a private invite code to play only with friends they know, versus connecting virtually with strangers,“ says Graber.
So, is Among Us safe for your child? The best way to see if the game and its features are appropriate for your child, play it with them so you can decide for yourself.