Australian police warn parents about ‘gaming maniacs’
Important recommendations will help protect children from potential psychological trauma.
According to press release of the Australian Police on January 28, parents and guardians should strive to be more proactive in monitoring their children’s online activities, in particular what they do in online games. Police say adults with mental and sexual disabilities often use online chat features to contact minors. This is why parents need to keep a closer eye on their children online.
Hilda Sirek, acting assistant police commissioner, said many parents don’t really understand how criminals can use in-game chats to strike up a conversation with their offspring.
“Often, perpetrators can pretend to be children themselves in order to quickly gain the trust of the victim. In some cases, the perpetrator invites the children to start chatting on another platform that allows the sharing of images and videos. There, the perpetrator usually engages in sexual correspondence, ”Sirek said.
If the initial contact is successful, the maniac may then use coercion or even in-game currency motivation to coerce the children into giving him explicit material or set up a face-to-face meeting.
The Australian police also emphasized that it does not matter what kind of games children spend time in. Since any game or application with Internet access and an online chat function can be used to harm.
Parents are advised to always check if the game their children are playing has voice or text chat features. And if they think that the chat is not needed, it is recommended to disable it permanently.
Some apps or games also have privacy settings that you can change to limit other players’ access to the child. Police officials are calling for such settings to be activated where possible. Of course, a child can easily turn them off, so parents should regularly check the privacy of their children.
Online games are very popular in recent years, and children are massively involved in them. As early as 2018, eSafety, Australia’s independent online safety regulator, reported in his report that, according to statistics, 6 out of 10 teenagers aged 8 to 17 play multiplayer online games. In our country, according to research Kaspersky Labs from 2019, already 83% of children spend their free time in computer games. Perhaps now, in 2023, the numbers are even higher.
eSafety estimates that 17% of multiplayer gamers have experienced bullying in online games. AT another report eSafety states that “exposure to negative online content and sexual content is common among young people between the ages of 14 and 17.” “Digital parenting must evolve as children grow so that they are well prepared to respond safely to harmful online content,” eSafety said in a report.
What about large companies whose products can be used for malicious purposes? Are they taking any action to keep children safe online?
In late 2022, Google said it was rolling out several new features to help parents control their kids’ online time and activities. On the other hand, in report McAfee reported in August 2022 that Meta*-owned platforms Facebook* and Instagram* remain a hotbed of online bullying, with even children as young as 10 being subjected to racist abuse.
* The Meta company and its products (Instagram and Facebook) are recognized as extremist organizations, their activities are prohibited on the territory of the Russian Federation.