According to the FBI, there are approximately 750,000 child predators online at any time seeking to exploit children. One way that child predators are able to communicate with kids is through popular video games and games that are downloaded to phones. A lot of gaming apps include chat rooms where kids may think they are talking with kids their own age when they may actually be talking to an online predator. Without a way to confirm age and identity of other players, kids tend to make assumptions about who they’re talking to.
So, how do you keep kids safe while they’re playing video games?
Get involved. Consider playing the games in question to get a better understanding of how they work and the general environment. See what chat features are available and the privacy settings therein.
Establish ground rules. After finding out what chat features are available and how to set privacy parameters, establish some ground rules. Make sure kids aren’t revealing personal information like location, last names or age. Kids should know what red flags to look for and what are grounds for alerting parents or even police.
Know passwords. Make sure all passwords are in the open so measures can be taken if online predator activity is suspected.
Check history. Regularly check the history of kids’ digital devices. If history is constantly deleted investigate why.
Beware of private chatrooms. Many gaming apps contain private chatrooms within the game, even games meant for younger children. The games can also include links that may lead to inappropriate, unrestricted internet sites meant for adults, as well as illegal material.