27-Year-Old man targets teen through Online Video Games – Keeping Kids Safe Online

Photo courtesy of techspot

This story should serve as a wake-up-call- for all parents who have children that play video games.  A 27-year-old man was recently sentenced  to 22-months on internet luring and child pornography charges.

Joseph Rice, from Newfoundland became friends with a 16-year-old boy from Massachusetts through an online game.  Rice sent the teen nude photos of a 12-year-old boy and the teen reciprocated and sent back nude photos of himself.  The teen went to the police when Rice asked if he could visit, so that the could have a sexual relationship.

Online Predators are professionals, and they know exactly where children hangout on the Internet.  Online Predators start off by asking the child about the game, talking about pop culture, and anything else they know teens are interested in.  After they spark a conversation, they ask “perceived innocent” personal questions about the child’s age, school, family, and other interests.  Before you know it, the teen believes the person is their friend and genuinely cares about them.

Parents must be vigilante about keeping their kids safe Online.  It is our responsibility to get in our children’s business, set expectations,  and discuss consequences.

Seven Tips to keep kids safe while playing Online Video Games:

1.           Before allowing your child to participate in any online activity it is imperative to have open communication about the rules of engagement.  Just as you discuss what’s acceptable to share on social media outlets you should do the same with online video game play.  Children should never disclose their name, phone number, school information, birthday, address, or any other information to those they play video games with online.

2.           Make sure your child understands the dangers of entering chat rooms with strangers. There have been numerous instances where people have had their online identity stolen, and children believe they are interacting with friends only to find that they have shared information with predators.  I suggest that you prohibit your child from entering a chat room, unless they have cleared it with you and only after you ensure that they know the person.  Another safeguard is to avoid chat rooms all together and have them speak with their friends via phone.

3.         If your child is allowed to enter chat rooms with friends, make sure that the definition of “friend” is clear.  If your child does not interact with the person in real life, they should not enter a chat room with them.  You should review your child’s friend list and ask questions about people you are unfamiliar with.

4.           If your child is being harassed, let them know they can come to you to discuss.        Yes, you will probably be upset, buy your child must feel safe enough to share this information.

5.           Often times your children play online video games while visiting friends.  Find         out what games they play and the family policies around online video games to make sure you and the other parents are on the same page.

6.           No matter how much your child begs you for a certain game, check out the video     game rating and choose accordingly.

Below you will find the ESRB Game Rating System and a brief explanation of the classification:

EC – Early Childhood. Appropriate for anybody between the ages of 3 to 6. May include stuff that may require reading or math skills.

E – Everyone. This is for everyone over at least seven years old. May contain little or no violence or dirty words. Resembles the MPAA’s G Rating.

E10+ – Suitable for people ten and older. May include some mild violence, and a few dirty words. The Sims 2 for Playstation has this rating. Resembles the MPAA’s PG rating.

T – Teen. Anybody thirteen and older could play this game. Most of the western civilization games are under that level. Resembles the PG-13 rating. There may be some nudity or some violence or dirty words.

M – Mature. The most common game rating because most gamers are over seventeen years old. A lot of the war games under this category and some sports games such as NASCAR fall into this too.

Marlin Page is a Speaker and Technology Lifestyle Strategist.  As a speaker, former Coder and Chief Information Officer Marlin travels the world speaking empowering women and girls in S.T.E.M., Online Safety, motivating girls and women to believe in themselves and Technology Strategies.  Marlin is also a global speaker and partner for Microsoft’s DigiGirlz Program.

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