I want to be a bit serious for a moment. Grooming children online has become an increasingly popular thing as the anonymity allows abusers to have free reign over their identity and their persona towards children. It’s scary that many abusers are now taking gaming as a conduit through which they meet children and talk to them.
This post was inspired by a BBC post about the subject of child grooming in gaming and I found it be a bit biased towards the world of gaming. I am in no way condoning the story as I believe it is good to take the facts and numbers into consideration when talking about a subject like this. However it just seemed to me as though they portrayed the gaming world as being more of a chat room for paedophiles instead of an entertainment platform meant for all to enjoy.
Yes grooming happens online, especially in games targeted towards children like Minecraft as it’s an easier spot to meet children. What has to be taken into consideration however is not how easy it is for children to be abused via this medium but for parents to properly educate their children on internet safety. Many parents simply leave their child in front of an Xbox with online access and expect them to be protected by the companies and online censorship while they themselves do nothing to protect their children until it’s too late. Of course not all parents do this, there are plenty that are responsible to look after their kids and enjoy playing games with them as much as anyone else but simply placing the blame on how easy it is for people to be taken advantage of in an online format is missing the point.
Personally I believe that more parent involvement, better education on the subject and more open talks about who they chat with and who their friends are online would be more beneficial to the issue than simply branding video games as easy child grooming systems and demanding companies do more to protect the young. Yes catfishing and grooming will always be a thing and that truly sucks but ultimately that’s the price of freedom and anonymity, you open the door to those who are less desirable.
So if you are a parent reading this and you are worried about exactly what your kid is doing online instead of simply blocking them from things they want to do or blaming the companies that are focused on simply making a piece of entertainment for all try to include yourself in your child’s hobby. Play some games with them, or even just watch them play a little bit. If you do this and see something suspicious then have a chat with your child and explain why what happened was not a good thing. Education will always win over shouting and censorship.
Sorry about the more serious subject matter this time, I just read that article and wanted to give my two cents. Back to silliness for future posts! That’s all for now, and as always. It’s not just a game, It’s a Life.
P.S. Here’s a link to the BBC article if you are interested in reading it – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-38284216