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The Apparent Dangers of Online Predators

Posted by on Feb. 21, 2017 at 10:10 AM
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We live in a technological age where mobile phones, tablets, computer mice and controllers are fast becoming permanent fixtures in the hands of our children. A time where kids are seldom seen stepping outside of their houses without a game shop token in their hand and bus fare in their pockets. It is an ever-increasingly sad fact to behold, but a fact it is and one we, as parents have a duty to safeguard.

It would be great if we again lived in that age of innocence. The times when the streets were awash with children of all ages having fun and no parents had to worry about Pervy Pete lying in wait behind the nearest bush or up the next tree. Sadly, however, these times have passed us, leaving us and our children have abandoned the great outdoors for the assumed safety of their bedrooms and online worlds unaware of the dangers that lay in wait.

This article was inspired after I did a little research into a game my son was playing at the time, Roblox. Roblox is a multi-game platform in which the general public can create games for others to play. The concept is brilliant. However, a little trip to Google helped me see just how dangerous these games that are loved by kids really are. Just by using the simple search query Roblox, I was met by an abundance of articles from large, well-reputed websites talking about parent’s horrific experiences of their children being sent sickening messages by older men (and, in few cases, women). Immediate alarm bells sounded, and I rushed to check my boy’s account.

Luckily, nothing untoward was found, but this did nothing to ease my anger, anxiety or paranoia. I had to do something further and hence; this article was born. A way to reach out to fellow parents and offer the advice I have found during further research. If I can stop just one case of this, then my work is done.

So, just how can we protect our children from these predators? Is it a good idea to just stop them going online? Sadly, not. This will only go to make them play in secret at home or even at a friend’s house. This is far from what and will further endanger them.

Online Safety and Safeguarding

There is nothing wrong with your child enjoying a game of Roblox, or any other online children’s game for that matter. They are completely safe and child-friendly. You just have to take a few precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of your child.

  1. Make sure you research a little – Has your child recently started playing a new game? Do a little research by Googling the game’s title; you will find an abundance of information on the game and find child-safety advice surrounding the content. A little further research will offer up game settings integrated for parents.
  2. Sit close to your child while they are gaming – This will give you the chance to take a little peek at their screen from time-to-time. Ensure they are not talking to the wrong people or engaging in child-inappropriate activity.
  3. Show an interest – Show an interest in the games your children are playing. Ask questions and interact a little around some of the elements of the game. This will help you learn, show your child you have an interest in what they do and help bonding.
  4. Limit your child’s screen time – It is essential your child engages in activities away from their screens. After-school clubs and youth groups are ideal ways to bring your child away from computers and will be beneficial to their mental health and schooling.
  5. Check out the chat systems – Some in-game chat systems allow for free speech and can make players very susceptible to unwanted messages. Try to encourage the use of games with no communication or those where a selection of pre-made quotes are the only means of talking. If the game has a free-talking chat system then have a look at the options, you may be able to disable the chat all together.

The above is what came to my own attention during my research. I understand that each child may differ in personality and, of course, age. I aimed this article at parents with younger children (4 – 8), but there may be parts that will assist parents of older children. I hope this helped somewhat and look forward to reading your replies.
by on Feb. 21, 2017 at 10:10 AM
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