Dad discovers disturbing paedophilic messages on son's gaming profile!
A suspicious dad tried out his sons' favourite game and found himself surrounded by paedophiles.
A dad took to Facebook to warn fellow parents about a game his 2 sons used to play. The reason - he spotted potential paedophiles in the multi-player online game!
According to a report, Iain Morrison heard about the potential danger of playing Roblox, a multiplayer game and decided to investigate. He asked his sons, 8 and 12 if they had ever played it. Turns out, they had. Wanting to check out if the claims were true, he decided to play the game himself, posing as one of his sons. And, within 15 minutes, he was propositioned to 'come over' to the other player's house.
This is the Facebook post.
According to the Facebook post, the game looked fine till he greeted a few people. As soon as he did that, he was asked his gender and was invited to imitate sexual movements.
This is quite disturbing, and I sympathise with the dad. Had I been in his place, I would have deleted the game and would have buried the iPad somewhere. However, many people were quick to point out that this game has some child lock features that limit questionable activities.
A few people were genuinely horrified by reading the post and thanked Iain. However, a few were quick to berate him. A user pointed out that the Internet was a dark place, and allowing children to go online without supervision was callous. Another user pointed out that there are features where a parent gets the entire log of the activity of the child including the features he used, and messages he received and sent.
In agreement with the reactions, Snopes.com, the fact-checking website does not feel that the particular game is worse than any other games of this genre. Any game with a feature where the players can chat with each other has this potential threat. And to combat it, Roblox has a default setting where children less than 12 do not get messages from strangers - they only receive them from friends. However, paedophiles are known to befriend children, so this is not something you can rely on, as a parent.
What should the parents do?
Raising kids in a tech era is tough. I always long for simpler times where the only games we used to play as kids were on the playground. Sadly, we have to adapt to the needs of the fast-paced life.
The problem when it comes to kids is that we give them a device to keep in touch with them. It is hard not to trust them to use it wisely. However, we cannot forget that even the best-behaved child is at the end, a child. And with his state comes the curiosity of exploring the device and what it can do.
In such scenarios, parents need to toughen up. Here are the 3 things every parent MUST do in order to safeguard your children from the dangers of the Internet, including potential lurking paedophiles.
1# Restrict device use
Buy your child a feature phone. The whole reason a child, age less than 16, needs a phone is to let the parents know that he is safe. He honestly does not need a smartphone. On similar lines, he should not possess an iPad as well. He can use yours, but giving a device to your child below 16 is potentially disastrous.
The best thing to do is hand him the feature phone while leaving for school and keep it in a drawer once he is back. Also, get a postpaid connection for your child and order a log of the calls/texts from your phone service provider. Every month, see if you spot red flags, like repeat calls to an unknown number.
2# Keep the computer in a common area
Do not give your child a computer to use in his room. He is going to wander and be exposed to something you don't want him to. Instead, place the computer/laptop in a common area and ask him to use it in front of you. ALWAYS supervise games and online activities till the child turns 16.
Remember, violence in games also has a lasting impact on the child - it is not always about nudity. So, play the game once or twice and explore it before creating a profile for your child. Always check websites like Commonsensemedia.org that gives you a review from fellow parents. Also, ask your child to play the 'offline' version of the game.
While you do that, trust your inner instinct. Nothing is safe on the internet, however, you cannot shield your child from it forever! If you don't allow him, he will find ways to go online on his own. It is better if he plays games/surfs the internet in front of you rather than at someplace else.
3# Use parental controls
Before handing any device to the child, you need to make sure that the device is safe. To start with, use the kids' versions of apps like Youtube Kids where the videos are much closely monitored. Always use a strict Google SafeSearch filter when you hand over the device to your child. In addition, you can use website blockers like NetNanny that restrict flagged websites.
However, all these things are not 100% reliable. What you need to do is establish trust with your child. Shooting his questions down is going to do the opposite. So encourage him to ask you anything, and try to give a rational and a scientific explanation. That way, he would not go exploring behind your back.
Mums and dads, it is tough. But that does not mean you cannot do it! Be vigilant and use all the tools at your disposal!