A Parent’s Guide to Steam

Gaming is like any other activity for kids, such as after school soccer, scouts, or summer camp. Is bullying a big part of those things? No. Is there the possibility of bullying, albeit a small one? Yes. Should you know what the dangers are and how to take care of them? Of course. The same applies in online gaming. So here’s what a parent should know about Steam.

What Is Steam?

Steam is the largest PC gaming platform in the world. It is comparable to the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live. However, those two platforms require dedicated (and proprietary) gaming consoles. Steam, on the other hand, works on any PC.

Steam is a store. They sell games, which are attached to users’ accounts. Users may also sell their own digital items in Steam’s online marketplace.

Steam is a game launcher. It is a program a user runs on their PC, through which they can launch their games.

Finally, Steam is a social network. Users have profiles, friends, communities, forums, and more.

What Is the Cyberbullying Danger?

Cyberbullying is a small part of the average Steam user’s experience. However, there are some things parents should know and understand.

The largest danger is scamming. Scamming is when a person tricks or steals an in-game item from another person, usually a younger or a more naïve player.  Sometimes a player’s entire account can be stolen. In-game items can be worth lots of money and accounts with dozens of games attached can be worth hundreds of dollars, so there’s an obvious financial aspect to scamming. In extreme cases, there can also be a humiliation aspect, where the person who stole the items will post a video on YouTube about what they have done (here’s someone scamming a scammer on Fortnite, a non-Steam game). There are hundreds of these videos on YouTube.

Because Steam is a social network, younger children who are new to social networks and gaming are particularly vulnerable either to things like scamming, or the effects that come with being exposed to these kinds of behaviours. Below are some ways you can help protect your child, but talking to them about the kinds of things that can happen in an online game situation is also very important.

How to Set Up Family View

Family View is Steam’s version of parental controls. It lets parents gate parts of Steam, limiting children’s access to mature games and features like the store, library, and community.

To set up Family View, log into the Steam account your child uses. Then, click Steam at the top of the menu bar. Then, open Settings. Next, click Family from the left side of the newly opened window. Here, you can click on Family View. Now you may choose which features your child can access and which will be blocked. Finally, select and confirm a PIN.

How to Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is the best way to secure an online account. Given that scamming is becoming a very real concern, you should make sure two-factor authentication is enabled.

Steam does this with an app called Steam Guard. First, download Steam Guard onto the device. Once this is done, tap Steam Guard. Then, tap Add Authenticator, and finally add your mobile phone number. You will get a text containing an authentication code, which you will enter in Steam Guard. Once this is done, Steam Guard will give you a recovery code, in case your child loses their phone and still wants to log into Steam. It is very important to write this code down somewhere safe. Once this is done, you’re all set up. From now on, when your child accesses Steam, they’ll have to enter a code from Steam Guard in addition to their password.

How to Block Other Users

To block a specific user, go to their profile. On the right is a button that says More with a down arrow next to it. Click on the down arrow and you will get a drop down menu. One of the options is Block Communication. Click that and you’ve blocked the user. A user will not know that you’ve blocked them.

How to Report Other Users

You may report a user for things like harassment, scamming, cheating, and more. Go to their profile, click the More button with a down arrow, and then click Report from the drop down menu. You will then be prompted for more information. It is best to be specific and concise, and include any relevant screen shots. A user will not know that you’ve reported them.

The Bottom Line

Again, cyberbullying isn’t a huge component of Steam. However, it pays to be prepared. And remember, Steam has tools available that can help report any problem to prevent a reoccurrence. Happy gaming!

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Public vs. Private on Instagram

In our parent’s guide to Instagram, we talked about what Instagram is, how teenagers use it, what FOMO is, and a bit about Rinstas vs. Finstas. In this post, we’re going to discuss how Instagram’s privacy settings work and what exactly they control. If you need help reporting cyberbullying on Instagram, see our post on reporting cyberbullying on various social media sites.

How to Set Your Profile to Private

By default, posts on Instagram are public. This means that anyone using Instagram can see your pictures, stories, and comments. There are also external sites, like Insta Stalker, that let people without Instagram browse the site.

To change your profile to private, go to Settings. Then, go to Account Privacy. Then you can toggle Private Account to on.

When you set your Instagram profile to private, only people from your followers list will be able to see your pictures, stories, comments, followers list, and following list. If your profile is set to private, new follow requests will be sent to you for approval before they’ll be able to see your posts. If there is someone on your followers list and you don’t want them seeing your posts, you’ll have to block them. To block someone, go to their profile, tap on the icon with three dots, and then tap Block. To unblock someone, it’s the same process, but you tap Unblock.

If you block someone, Instagram will not notify that user that they are blocked. However, that person may be able to guess that they are blocked based on the fact that they can no longer find you on Instagram.

Other Sites

Note that if you have your Instagram linked to another social media site, changing your profile on Instagram to private won’t change who can see your posts on the other site. For example, if you share an Instagram post on Twitter, anyone who can see your Twitter posts will be able to see that particular Instagram post.

Third Party Access

To revoke third-party access to your Instagram posts, go to Settings, then tap Authorized Access. You will see a list of apps and websites linked to your Instagram account. If you want to decouple one from your Instagram account, tap Revoke Access, and then click Yes.

Direct Messages

Anyone can send you a direct message, even if they are not your follower and you have your profile set to private. If you no longer want messages from a particular person, you may block them as described above.


When you like a post, it’s visible to anyone who can see the post.

If your account is set to private, only approved followers can see your posts, but when you like a public post it will be visible to anyone who can see the post and your username will be clickable. Your username will be visible, but your pictures will not be.


If you have a private profile and you mention someone who isn’t an approved follower in a post, that person won’t get a notification.

If you have a private profile and comment on someone else’s public post, your comment will be visible to the public and your username will be clickable.


If your profile is set to private and you use a hashtag in a post, it won’t appear in a public search for a hashtag. Only your followers will be able to see the post.

An Important Caveat

Even if you have your Instagram privacy settings as tight as possible, something you say or post could still make it out into the broader world. It’s easy for a risqué picture or a mean comment to be screencapped and sent around to people beyond your follower list. Remember that privacy settings can be circumvented and that a bit of caution when posting online is always a good idea.

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