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Predators Using Online Games [Video]



Are your kids safe? Predators reaching children through online games

by Dave Huddleston, WSBTV.com

ATLANTA – MaryBeth Reeves is used to a lot of chatting. The Georgia mother of quadruplet 10-year-old daughters says it’s rarely quiet in their home. What she wasn’t used to were the chats taking place while her girls played games online.

Roblox allow players to communicate with each other

Her girls use Roblox, a multiplayer game site that allows players to communicate with each other.

“There’s a bunch of different people that can be on a game and then there’s, like, this chat that you can type in what you want to say. Then you can communicate with other people, say if you’re on a team,” 10-year-old Hannah Reeves explained.

Not long ago, a few players stopped talking about the game and began asking the girls questions about themselves.

“He said, ‘You’re cute,’ and I said, ‘Ew, gross!’” Gwendolyn Reeves said.

Her sister, Isabella, said someone asked her if she’d like to go out on a date.

Reeves said she was unaware that was possible. She and her husband monitor their girls’ online activity closely. They have controls on each laptop and tablet that turn them on and off and allow them to track what sites the kids visit.

“When the first girl told me someone asked her out on a date I thought she was making it up,” Reeves said. “There was a sinking feeling in the bottom of my stomach.”

She immediately had a conversation with her girls.

“We just have to try to educate them as much as possible. Keeping them in the dark is not going to help them,” Reeves told WSB-TV’s Dave Huddleston.

Sky Valley Police Chief Vaughn Estes told WSB-TV that is the exact right approach for parents to take. Estes worked for the GBI in its high technology investigative unit and says pedophiles prey on children using subtle techniques to gain their confidence and lure them in.

“We’ve worked cases where people have talked children into doing things in front of their webcams that the parents walk into the room and they are horrified when they discover,” Estes said.

Active parenting first line of defense

He also says active parenting should be the first line of defense to protect your child.

“Know what your children are doing. Know what they are on. If they are in that room with that computer, you don’t know who is on the other side of that computer,” Estes said. “If their phone has a password on it and you, the parent, does not know it, then you need to get the phone away from them because there is nothing on there that a 14-year-old should not be able to show you.”

He says when parents are aware and kids speak up, it makes investigating this type of behavior easier.

Knowing what your kids are doing online is important

WSB-TV’s Huddleston also spoke with Eliza Harrell, a director with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Harrell says that while knowing what your kids are doing online is important, they also need to understand online gaming safety features.

“Most companies are more than willing to help,” Harrell said.

Roblox, the site the Reeves girls use, filters out offensive language and allows parents to choose who their children chat with or to turn chat off altogether. They also allow kids to report abuse and block players that ask offensive questions.

The company told WSB-TV that every abuse report is investigated and players can be banned from the site.

All three girls in the Reeves house who were approached blocked the player asking the questions, and one of them was able to report the activity before the player left the game.

Reeves says she’s thankful they spoke up and wants other parents to be prepared.

“Anything I can do to let other parents know that that happens,” she said.

Source: WSOCTV Com

How Predators “Groom” Children While Gaming Online

Earlier this year, Immingham and Wolds Community Policing Team in the United Kingdom reported that an adult made an attempt to “groom” a boy while they both played Minecraft, a game where users build constructions out of blocks in a three-dimensional world. This case is just one of many that shows the dangers that face children in the gaming world.

What is “grooming”?

Grooming is the process by which a child predator gains the trust of a victim by building a relationship with the child and then breaking down his or her defenses. After the predator has built a foundation of trust with the child, he begins to make some sort of sexual contact with the child, whether it is sending explicit messages and photos or attempting to meet in person to commit sexual abuse or rape.

Grooming & Gaming

Although children play games to have fun and escape from homework and chores, predators have a different motive. Unfortunately, predators have discovered that gaming is an ideal way for predators to connect with children over a shared interest and build a relationship by being on the same team or fighting the same mission. In fact, in 2012, Microsoft, Sony, Disney, and Electronic Arts shut down the accounts of over 3,500 registered sex offenders in a mission called “Operation Game Over.”

But, these 3,500 accounts are just the tip of the iceberg. The truth is, predators are still using gaming as a way to gain access to children on a daily basis. Predators will most likely start off a conversation with an innocent question about the child’s name or age, and then move into more inappropriate questions as the relationship grows. After contact has been initiated, the predator may try to convince the child to take the conversation over to another app such as WhatsApp, Skype or Snapchat. Predators have become so skilled at grooming children through gaming, that they even know how to sense when a child is being supervised. If the child stops responding or begins to respond in an unusual way, predators typically sign off to avoid getting caught.

Even if parents do everything that they’re supposed to do by only allowing their children to play age-appropriate games, children can still become victims of grooming. Because of this, it’s important that parents recognize how groomers behave and what signs to look for in children.

What are the signs of grooming?

Children are vulnerable and, unfortunately, predators are well aware of it. Child predators begin to build trust with the child by preying on his or her vulnerabilities. If the predator senses that the child feels alone or left out, the predator will make him or her feel special with excessive attention or by offering a shoulder to cry on. In some cases, the groomer isolates the child from friends and family by making him or her believe that he is the only one in the world who understands the emotions that the victim feels. The groomer will most likely manipulate the child into keeping the relationship a secret so that parents or caretakers do not discover the inappropriate bond. Be on the lookout for these signs that your child might be a victim of grooming through gaming:

  • Your child wants to spend more time online or playing games through a console but won’t tell you why.
  • Your child does not want to discuss what he or she does online or what websites he or she visits.
  • You notice that your child is using inappropriate language that he or she would not have heard within your home or at school.
  • When you walk in a room, your child quickly changes the computer screen, mutes the volume on his or her gaming console, or turns it off altogether.

How can you protect your child?

It’s important to know the signs of grooming, but even more important to take the necessary steps to prevent your child from becoming a victim. Before your child enters the world of gaming, protect him or her with these tips:

  • Check the parental controls on the game console and restrict strangers from gaining access to your child’s profile.
  •  From time to time, parents should play the game, too. Get a feel for the other people who your child interacts with, the language that they use, and whether or not your child is at risk of being groomed.
  • Talk openly to your children about privacy and why some information should never be shared with people that you don’t know.
  • Explain to children that even if they frequently talk to someone through a game, this person is still a stranger and should not be trusted with personal information.

If you believe that your child is being groomed online, talk to him or her openly, but firmly. Be sure to contact your local police department immediately if you find evidence that a predator has attempted to groom your child through online gaming or any other channel.

Source: Teen Safe

Thanks WSOCTV Com, Teen Safe  and for reading Predators Using Online Games

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Dr Don
Founder/Admin The Internet Crime Fighters Org, Author The Internet Users Handbook, See more http://about.me/drdony
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