June 24, 2024

Online Video Games and Child Sex Abuse

Online video games like Minecraft, Fortnite, and Roblox can seem fun and innocent, but they can also be dangerous. Many parents think these games are safe for kids, but they can be a hunting ground for predators.

Why Video Games Are Different

Unlike social media where predators move from profile to profile, video games give them a common interest with young players. Many games have voice chat, allowing predators to talk directly to kids. They might pretend to be a mentor, a friendly adult impressed with their skills, or even an age-appropriate peer.

Building Trust

Predators know how to identify and talk to potential victims. They might start by playing the game together and giving in-game gifts or currency to build trust. Then, they often move the conversation to apps like Discord or Snapchat, continuing the grooming process. The more time the predator spends with your child, the greater the risk of exploitation.

The Gradual Process

Conversations may not start out sexual. Predators can take their time, building a relationship by asking your child to do certain things, like pranking or bullying other players online. They might make the relationship seem romantic or convince your child that they are the only one who understands them. Kids often comply because they want to seem cool and likeable to their new ‘friend’.

The Danger Escalates

Over time, predators might convince your child to send explicit images. They may send one first as an offering of ‘fairness’. If your child initially complies but then later refuses, the predator might threaten to share the photos with family or friends. This can make your child feel trapped and scared, unsure of how to ask for help. In extreme cases, predators might even try to convince your child to run away with them to prevent the photos from being sent. This is a form of ‘sextortion’ or online enticement.

How to Protect Your Child

To protect your child while they play online video games, start by using parental controls to ensure the games have appropriate settings. Always check the ESRB ratings to confirm that the games are suitable for your child’s age. Supervise their gameplay so you know who they are playing with online. It’s also crucial to communicate openly with your child, encouraging them to tell you if anyone they don’t know tries to join their game or send them messages.

Knowledge is Power

It’s crucial to understand the games your child is playing and who they are interacting with. While it may seem overwhelming, staying informed and involved is key to protecting your child in the world of online video games. Take it further than just checking in with them. Playing video games with your child gives you a chance to bond as well fosters a open and communicable relationship.

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Josh Gillispie