FBI: Online Gaming Isn’t All Fun and Games
July 16th, 2021
The FBI has a warning for parents: Online gaming isn’t all fun and games. Too often, the anonymous people on the other side of the screen are adults, preying on kids.
Parents need to know that while kids and teens are having fun playing with each other or against a machine, adults are also there. And some of them are lurking with bad intent.
The Internet Crime Complaint Center explains that “the FBI defines online gaming as any game played while connected to the Internet. This includes games played through gaming consoles; handheld gaming devices; and applications on phones, tablets, or computers. All games with communication features, including basic games, can be used by child predators.”
This is important for parents to keep in mind. You might think a simple handheld device is a mere toy, but it’s still a powerful communications device that criminals can use to connect with your children without your being aware.
It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, and it’s why the FBI’s New York Office recently launched its “It’s Not a Game” campaign.
It shows kids innocently playing games and describes how easy it is for predators to send instant messages to children in a game. “As soon as that instant message pops up on your child’s browser or on their smart phone,” warns the video, “there could be a sexual predator on the other end.”
The problem is that within hours of gaming, the predator can start “to groom your child into sending compromising photos to the person on the other end of that chat. Then the threats begin.”
The idea is that the predator will threaten to expose these photos online and embarrass the child, unless he sends even more images to the attacker.
Parents need to know that the danger of online sexual predators is real and poses a distinct threat to any family with children who play online games.
Setting privacy settings to the highest level on their gaming devices, phone and computer is a good start. Only let your kid download and play a game after you have reviewed it for age level and appropriateness. But you still have to monitor their activity.
One solution: Allow kids only to play online games in the family room, instead of locked away in their bedrooms without direct parental supervision.