As a parent, you may not be crazy about your child spending a lot of time “gaming.” Chances are good that your feelings are fueled by the fact that kids should play outside, be more social, and are getting addicted to tech or maybe the correlation between childhood obesity and excess computer time. It’s not pretty.
However, there’s another elephant in the room, perhaps squeezing out the obesity threat: the pedophile threat.
Recently on a Long Island college campus, a male student was found to be traipsing through gaming sites that are popular with young boys such as Grand Theft Auto and Minecraft. The 21year old predator, convinced three underage boys to take sexually explicit pictures and send them to him.
It’s tempting to question what these boys were thinking, that they would so freely take and send sexually explicit images of themselves to a complete stranger. But the predator played a numbers game in his trolling quest, finding three vulnerable victims and convincing them that he was “Allison Denario” and ask for the photos.
He’d then pose as Allison’s furious boyfriend. Of course, in real life, an angry boyfriend would normally demand that the photos stop. But “Allison”’s boyfriend told the boys his father was a cop or FBI agent. This angry cyber stranger demanded the boys perform sex acts on camera or he’d snitch on them for sending Allison the images. So. Flipping. Dark.
Well, Mt Predators little game was short-lived and he was charged with child pornography.
- Get an activated security suite for the computer before any game playing begins.
- Create long strong passwords. Please, no 123Gamer or Jayson14. So a long strong password might be a phrase ImaHugeStarWarsfan or a nonsensical jumble like gowkg850(4)2.
- Before any game playing, check its Entertainment Rating Software Board’s rating.
- Protecting your kids is more than just great passwords and online security features. Make your children feel that they won’t be judged or blown off by you if they report something peculiar or suspicious.
- Teach your kids how to make these reports, about “catching the bad guy in real life.” Feel free to refer to the bad guy as a predator, not just “bully.” Many kids think of “bullies” as other kids who call each other names online. But if a child is old enough to play on gaming sites, they’re old enough to be taught about adult male cybersexual predators and how they pose as young girls.