The Entertainment Software Association reports that more than 28% of all gamers are children and teenagers under the age of 18, and that 64 percent of U.S. families have at least one gaming device in their home.
While playing video games online can be a social, competitive, and interactive experience, it can also serve as a hunting field for sexual predators and human traffickers who utilize the platforms to follow and groom children in order to transition the conversation to a private setting.
FBI advises: "The common interest in the game that online predators have with their intended victims makes for a suitable discussion starter. To establish relationships with potential victims, predators may adopt the personas of amiable adults or age-appropriate peers. They frequently make friends with kids by giving them in-game coins or tips."
Additional risks and issues with internet gaming:
A predator's dream comes true when they can simultaneously engage all of their senses in real time (competition thrill, voice chat features, visual imagery, etc.).
Images of violence and sexual content are prevalent.
Online bullies may attack athletes.
Predators may employ speech-masking technologies to conceal their true voice.
Potentially inappropriate content
The compulsion of internet gaming may affect a child's or teen's mood or mental health, as well as sleep, homework, friendships with non-gamers, and family interactions.
Avoid using apps or platforms like Discord that offer voice chat, video calls, direct messages, and chatrooms. Players throng to it to communicate in real time with others while playing, including complete strangers. Numerous risks are present, including inappropriate language and pictures as well as possible online predators.
So what can parents do to ensure their kids' gaming safety?
Parents should actively supervise their kids' online gaming activities and instruct their kids in safety precautions:
Play games and use voice chat only with friends you know in person.
Any players who make them uncomfortable can be kicked out or blocked.
Never divulge any information that can be used to identify you (birthday, address, school name, etc.)
Parents should also establish parental controls, age-appropriate filters, and privacy settings on the gaming device (or using device settings if game is accessed by an app). To fully comprehend all the features and potential pitfalls of granting access to the game, parents should also learn and play the game alongside their child.
Finally, before downloading or purchasing games, parents can study the games and ratings provided by the independent Entertainment Software Rating Board.
Spend some time this summer learning about the most prevalent dangers that kids encounter when playing internet games. A parent who is well-informed, well-equipped, and empowered may contribute to making online gaming safer and more enjoyable for everyone.
Global Hope 365