Man Arrested for Kidnapping 9-year-old Girl He Met Through Online Game
The girl was using one of her parents’ smartphone to play the game.
A Japanese man has been arrested for allegedly kidnapping a 9-year-old girl whom he met through an online game, and for confining her for more than two days.
The 38-year-old man, Akihito Otake, was said to have abducted the girl in his car at around 4 pm last Wednesday (2 Sep) in Yokohama city, Tokyo.
Connected Through Playing an Online Game
According to reports, Otake and the girl connected through playing an online multiplayer game whereby different groups competed with each other.
She was said to have used one of her parents’ smartphone to play the game and supposedly took to the game’s voice chat function to communicate with Otake on the time and location of their meet-up.
On 2 September 2020—the day of the kidnapping—the 9-year-old told her friends that she was going to meet “a friend in Tokyo” while playing with them at a park.
However, she did not return home past her 5 pm curfew which led her mother to contact the police.
Through security camera footage, local police managed to identify Otake’s car where they tracked him to his home in Katsushika Ward, Tokyo.
On 5 September at about 3 am, Otake was said to be driving out from his home when the police stopped him for questioning—and that was when they found the girl in the backseat of his car.
Otake reportedly admitted to the charge of abducting the girl following his arrest on Saturday.
Fortunately, the elementary school student did not suffer any injuries and was taken into protective custody.
Tips for Parents If Your Child Is Engaged in Online Gaming
These tips may be simple, but they are key to helping your child stay safe while getting the entertainment that they crave for.
1. Take an interest in the games your child likes to play
Surely, we know that our children play a variety of games and installing way too many applications on the phone. In that sense, how much do we actually know of the games that they are actually playing?
Perhaps, it would be helpful for parents to start taking an active interest in the kind of games your child is playing, including how they work and what is it about the game that attracts them. Doing so not only allows you to seed out any potential red flags, but also motivate your child in sharing their experiences in the game, helping you to identify if there’s any cause for concern.
2. Find out who your child is playing these games with
For some children, it might be a little tricky to get them to reveal this information (read: privacy). But if you appear as genuinely interested in what your child is playing, you might be able to casually ask who they engage with online, the people they meet and talk to (if applicable) or even, how players in the game usually communicate.
Above all else, ensure that your child is aware of how to report abusive behaviour. Muting voice chat and/or limiting the use of a headset are also ways to help your child avoid any potential troubling behaviour.
3. Airplane mode: on
Not applicable in all scenarios of course, but for younger children, turning on ‘airplane’ mode on your digital devices can help to avoid potential accidental purchases or even connecting with strangers online.
4. Ensure that the games are age-appropriate
How many actually look at App store ratings to ensure that the apps or games played are age-appropriate? Explain to your child why certain games are allowed and why others are not.
5. Get children to think for themselves
No one likes to be told what to do, likewise for children. Use this as a teaching opportunity for your child to think critically to help protect themselves. Why should one limit keeping friendships in the game instead of adding them to other social networks? Why is it important to avoid sharing personal information? Get them to think about these issues on their own.