This is step four of our Online Gaming Whānau Toolkit. You can find all other steps as accessible web content here.

Agree and set expectations

Once you have a good understanding of your child’s online gaming, it’s time to reach agreement. Netsafe has found teenagers are aware too much time spent online can negatively impact their lives. They also admit this doesn’t mean they will successfully regulate time online without guidance and help of a parent or trusted adult.

Younger players typically have even lower levels of self­ regulation, and this extends beyond screen time. Young people may accept destructive behaviours from other players or get drawn into unacceptable ones themselves if it seems normal. Here is a chance to set expectations about what they can tolerate and what they should (virtually) walk away from.

Young people will likely be introduced to games through friends or online recommendations. Your objective is to get them thinking critically about choices they end up making. This is also a chance to agree on the boundaries about games you are comfortable with them playing and the process for deciding which ones to play. Let them know what you need before you’ll be able to support their choices.

Set expectations about:

  • A balanced amount of time gaming
  • The games that are appropriate to use and the functions you are happy for them to use
  • How their behaviour may impact fellow gamers
  • What type of information is safe to share
  • Where they should go for advice, including you, another trusted adult, a teacher or Netsafe

Your approach will be specific to your household and depend on your child’s age and stage. What do you feel comfortable discussing will also impact what you agree on. While games have many parental controls available, these are best used alongside online safety education.

For further information, visit

Online Gaming Whānau Toolkit

This is the fourth step in our seven-step framework Online Gaming Whānau Toolkit. It’s designed to help parents and whānau with digital parenting in a rapidly changing world.

You can will find the other steps as accessible individual pages here, or download the full Online Whānau Gaming Toolkit (PDF, 37MB).


If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, please call 111. If you want help or expert incident advice, you can contact us. Our service is free, non-judgemental and available seven days a week.


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