“Be cautious.” Protecting children against online gaming abuse

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Many parents monitor their children online and on social media, but what about their online gaming? A new report shows that many people – both adults and children, experience harassment while playing online games.

“For parents that are like, ‘Well, I’m not going to let my kid on Facebook, but I’ll let them online game on the Xbox at age 12, 13,’ you should be cautious,” said Chandler Hall, a Cyber Security Expert.

The anti-cyberbullying organization, The Cybersmile Foundation, said there are different types of online abuse through games. There is game rage and verbal abuse, there is doxxing when a player shares another player’s personal information like their address or phone number, and swatting – when someone makes a hoax call to emergency services to another person’s address.

There can also be hate speech, threats, and players can even be exposed to recruitment tactics of extremist groups.

“White supremacy is actually using online gaming platforms to engage with displaced, disadvantaged, frustrated male youth, in certain age categories, and they’ll just start off playing and being a good buddy, acting like their 13, 14, 15,” added Hall.

He said they will gain the confidence of the child, and start testing their response to bad language and racist labels.

“They mentally modify and really manipulate a young person into that world while just playing games,” he said.

Hall said this type of behavior can last for years.

“All of a sudden they’re 16, 17, 18, and now they’re wanting to go to a rally somewhere.”

He cautions parents to monitor their child’s online gaming, or even play with them.

“I played with my daughter all the time, Diablo 3, she would get on one, I would get on the other and we would team up and battle dragons and stuff like that, but it’s good to do that because now you’re in their friend network, and you’re maybe communicating and seeing some of that communication, develop that relationship with your child, because that’s probably your best defense,” said Hall.

It is also important your child protects their identity in online gaming. They should use messaging and live chats safely, use secure passwords, and should never share personal information.

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