EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) -Do you know what your children are doing and who they are talking to on apps and video games?
We investigated some of the most vulnerable apps and show you what to be aware of to make sure your children stay safe.
Video games have transformed over the years. What once was a simple video game console keeps evolving and that new technology opens a portal to online predators.
Jeff Osbourne is the owner of Secret Headquarter, a video game hub in Evansville. He said his daughter experienced online harassment while playing video games, but she knew exactly how to handle it. “She took it upon herself to go online and gather up a group of people and post transcripts of what he was saying to her and eventually got him banned off of x-box for a while,” said Osborne.
In September, 24 men were arrested in New Jersey for allegedly using popular video games such as Fortnite and Minecraft to lure children into dangerous situations. Authorities warn that it’s not just video games, Apps like Tik Tok, formerly known as Music.ly and Live.me allow for live interaction with total strangers.
Vanderburgh County Sheriff, Dave Wedding said, “They are people who have set up fake accounts. They may portray to be a 12-year-old, when in fact they’re a 40-year-old sexual deviant.”
According to the crimes Against Children Research Center, one in five teens who use the internet say they’ve received unwanted sexual solicitation online
“I think the first thing parents need to do and we probably need to do it in our schools simultaneously is educate children on the dangers of the predators out there surfing these websites looking for vulnerable kids,” Wedding added.
According to Tech Crunch, since its commercial birth in the 1950′s, gaming has blossomed into one of the most profitable entertainment industries in the world
“Every ten years something cool comes out and takes the industry by storm,” said Osborne.
With every new generation of video games and new Apps comes new technology that could leave your teens vulnerable. Wedding said, “There could be somebody hacking into our networks and putting viruses on them or trying to interact with our young children. So it’s a scary situation but we have to be diligent.”
What’s even more concerning is only about 25% of children who’ve encountered a sexual predator told a parent.
“It’s in everyday life. It’s all around us. Just teach them how to handle it properly,” said Osborne.
Authorities say the key is conversation. Talk to your children about the apps and games they are using and the dangers of talking to people they don't know.
Other games and apps parent should be warned of are Whisper, Chat Roulette, Kik, Skout, Grindr, Omegle, Tinder, Chat Avenue, Wishbone, Music.ly, Paltalk, Yubo, Hot or Not, Down, Tumblr, and Discord.