Protect Your Child from Dangers of Gaming

_0005_fotolia_4058832_Subscription_XL

Often parents realize the dangers of their children visiting in chat rooms or sending instant messages, but feel relieved when they see their child playing a game on the computer or on their game console. What parents should realize is that in our age of social media, social websites and profiles aren’t the only area where your child might be in danger of meeting dangerous internet predators – games are one of the most common targets for these criminals.

MMORPG

If you’ve never heard the term, a MMORPG is the newest form of game used over the computer and through gaming consoles such as the XBOX 360 and Wii. MMORPG stands for Massively Multiuser Online Role Playing Game and it is exactly what it is described to be – a huge game with thousands of players around the world. Part of the gaming is groups of players form teams or decide they are enemies and chat amongst themselves during game play.

You son is under little or no threat for deciding to become a galactic warrior battling the evils of the universe, but when he’s battling alongside nameless voices online, there is tremendous cause for concern.

Online Friends

When simply surfing online, it’s easy to avoid becoming trapped in a relationship with someone potentially dangerous. The dangerous people know this and seek out opportunities to actually get to know potential victims. By making a relationship more personal online, the individual is much more likely to gain information about his victim as he or she opens up to her new “friend.”

For online predators, MMORPG games such as World of Warcraft, Star Wars, Guild Wars, and others are a terrific opportunity to hide behind a profile or screen name and build a relationship with your child based on the group they fight with or the group they identify with in a virtual world.

Acting as your child’s buddy, a predator can draw out information from your child as they advance through levels. Many players of these sorts of games are online for long stretches of time. The games have times with intense play and then downtime while everyone gears up for the next round of whatever the goal is. It’s the downtime that can get a child in trouble.

Adrenaline surges during battle will make your chat extra chatty and the downtime leads to often rather personal conversations. After all it’s easy to open up to a stranger who really seems to “get” you, but you don’t have to worry about meeting in real life. At least that’s what your child might think. Those with more internet savvy know an entirely different version of reality.

That stranger might be someone who lives three countries away or three blocks away – on a game with character names and profiles, it’s impossible to tell.

Protecting Your Child

Protecting your child doesn’t mean you have to ban game play all together. To protect your child, you’ll want to utilize the same techniques as you would with any other online danger. To best protect your child, you should:

Make him aware of the danger and how to protect himself. Boys, who are the most common player of MMORPGs have a hard time believing they can be the target of online predators, but in truth boys are targeted almost as often as girls. As uncomfortable as the conversation may be, let your child know of your concerns and the basis for them.

Require him to create characters names that are completely unrelated to anything in his real life. Avoid any mascots, city names, his initials or home town. During play, he should always be aware of what he’s saying. Age is a frequent question among all gamers, but your child should be trained to not discuss his age or to answer evasively – answer the question without actually stating the full truth. This might be something like, “Old enough to run another mission!” when asked, “How old are you?”

He should never discuss his school, his activities, his family, his home, his name, his birthday or any other personal information that would make it possible for someone to look him up and find him should they try.

In addition to training him in how to protect himself, you should monitor his behavior by staying present when he plays as a constant reminder of what he should be doing and what he shouldn’t be.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: