According to the latest McAfee study, 63% of kids aged 2 – 17 have a game console, PC, or smartphone for online gaming and 62% of kids that play games online are speaking to other people online during the game. Some will be friends that they are playing with, but the majority of the people they are chatting with, are strangers.
Most of these gamers have not malicious intent, but there are hackers, scammers and worse, sexual predators online as well. All it takes is one of these horrible people to exploit your child’s naivety and innocence to take advantage of them. Parent beware and be informed and educated. Most important, communicate and protect your children!
Cyber-criminals often exploit your games by pretending to be someone they know or being overly helpful and friendly. Once they gain the child’s trust, which is most times not tricky, they will send them malicious links, instruct them to download virus-laden programs, ask for personal information such as account usernames and passwords.
The Top Dangers of Online Gaming
Many kids use the online gaming world as a way to escape. No one knows who they are, what school they go to or what they look like. The problem is the anonymity goes both ways. Some players take advantage of their unknown identity “grief” other players makes the game less enjoyable. This can include “kill stealing” which sees griefers killing needed quest monsters before players can get to them an cause them to die. In some cases, this so-called griefing can escalate to cyberbullying.
Some common forms include “whispering” players directly with hurtful and harmful messages or spamming global chat channels with derogatory comments about their victims. This can be devastating to a young game player. It is always a good idea to write down or screenshot any offensive conversation and report it to the game administrators.
Stay Safe Online recommends that kids never create users names that are derivatives of their real names or anything that gives away their age or location. Cybercriminals are experts at manipulating the conversation. They will single out your child in a general chat room and then start sending personal messages asking for detailed information. Never, never give away any personal information
Personal Information left on Consoles and PCs
Something a lot of us don’t think about is what happens to the consoles or PC’s we outlive and dispose of. Many families take these devices to a recycling center or sell them. We often forget to delete the files and personal information which puts our financial and private lives at risk. You should wipe all own date from games consoles, tablets, etc. as this information is straightforward to retrieve if the console ends up in the wrong hands.
Business Insider reported that 4,500 webcams were hacked last year and streamed to a Russian website. Any connected webcam or audio device could be controlled by attackers and used to exploit your child. Make sure to scan your system on a regular base for malware and make sure your webcam’s default setting is “off.”
The scariest of all risks with online gaming is online predator. They are typically older gamers who use the game to lure and groom younger victims. The results can be anything from inappropriate messages to chats to face-to-face meetings that could lead to sexual exploitation or worse Internet Safety 101 reports that online gaming gives predators a chance to bond with their victims through the gaming experience. Monitor their gameplay very carefully and talk to them specifically about the signs of online predators.
Beware of the “freemium” model. This means you get some free content. However, you have to pay to access other portions of the game. This can quickly rack up credit card charges. Never give out your credit card number to freemium games. It is also a good idea to check your credit card bills to make sure that you are not being charged for purchases you didn’t agree to.
Always be mindful of what apps you are downloading. Apps may appear to be legitimate or masquerade as legitimate. A trojan may modify a legitimate app and upload the malicious version to GooglePlace. When downloaded theTrojan would execute and be capable of taking control of a users Android device and making part of a more massive “botnet.” Only download apps from reputable sources. Do your research.
How to Protect Your Child from Being a Victim of Online Gaming
Talk to Your Child About Online Safety
Please, please continuously communicate with your child. Pay attention and make sure the game is age appropriate for your child. Explain the dangers of playing games with strangers. This should be an ongoing conversation that evolves as your child grows and matures.
Setting rules at a very young age are important. Make sure they ask permission before purchasing or anything to your phone, computer, or game console. If you find content that you didn’t know about, enforce the rules by taking away gaming privileges for a specific amount of time.
Tell That Not to Talk to Strangers Online
You can avoid this altogether by purchasing games that don’t offer online multiplayer support until they are old enough to understand the dangers. Even then, it is critical to monitor gameplay and reiterate stranger danger consistently.
Limit Their Screen Time
Time and time again, we see children that spend every free moment playing online games. Balance your child’s recreation time with other activities that explore their creativity in different ways and create family interaction such as board games, arts, and crafts or even reading a book! You are responsible for managing how much time they spend on online gaming.
By implementing proper boundaries, guidelines, and rules, you can better protect your child and make sure they are in a safe place with they play online games. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to communicate, educate, discipline and protect your child’s online gaming safety.
This should not be taken for granted as the potential risk and danger are very real. If you suspect your child has become a victim of any malicious activity during online gaming, please contact Social Catfish to assist in protecting your child from being a victim of an online gaming attack.