Video games: predators preying while playing
Reported by: Brent Solomon
Kids love playing video games, but what if we told you sexual predators do too? Did you know many of the video gaming systems on the market today, maybe the same systems in your home, allow predators to communicate directly with your child? We looked into this potentially dangerous practice and what you can do to keep your kids safe.
"Aww dude, you just saved me," 15 year old Peter Alverio screams out while enjoying a game on his Xbox 360.
His Xbox headset allows him to communicate with other players. Because it can "go live", or connect to the internet, his fellow players could be down the road, across town, or even in another state.
"I just like the adrenaline rush," 16 year old Blake Daniel says describing his Nintendo Wii.
Daniel and his 14 year old sister Bethany often play together. Just like the Xbox 360 and even the Playstation 3, the Wii also has the option of connecting to the internet.
"I was not aware that existed," parent Jeff Daniel said after learning about new dangers in online gaming.
Jeff Daniel is concerned because it never crossed his mind sexual predators are at home playing on video games too. "You can't control their language. You can't control what they say to you during the game," he said.
The trend is catching the eyes of local law enforcement. "This is one of the most fast paced and ground breaking crimes that is in America today challenging law enforcement," said Richard Friend with the Saline County Prosecutorâ€™s Office.
Nationwide, predators are being arrested and convicted for connecting with kids through games.
Bradley Jensen works for Microsoft, the company that invented the Xbox. "Whether itâ€™s on the Xbox or anything else, anytime that you have contact with the internet, anything going out, you need to apply security to it," Jensen said.
Jensen says there are safeguards parents can program to make sure kids aren't inappropriately communicating with strangers.
"When you start up your Xbox without a game in it, you'll come to this screen right here. If you scroll over to the right, you'll come to the systems menu and you'll see family settings right here," Best Buy sales associate Michael Scott demonstrated.
He says at that point, a parent can then choose whether to allow or block internet capabilities. Once you've actually programmed these settings, you can create a unique password so that your kid's can't go in and un-do it.
"You can disable voice chat, you can disable friend requests coming from people, you can make it so that you have to approve the friends that they have," Scott pointed out.
Without taking these precautions, your child could be making friends with the enemy.
"If we know about this, weâ€™re going to get on World of Warcraft (video game), weâ€™re going to get on Rainbow 6 (video game), weâ€™re going to do the same things they're doing because if they're looking for our kids, we're looking for them,â€ Friend said.
From now on, Jeff Daniel will be taking a closer look at just what his children's gaming system can do.
"They're not thinking about being watched by anybody or that somebody is trying to lure them. They're just there to play a game," he said.
An innocent game could quickly turn dangerous, with no obvious indications until the predators have already begun preying while playing.
Many of these game systems also allow players to share video on webcams and even chat with microphones.
Sexual predators are gonna getcha!