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Online Gaming

Protect Your Children from Online Gaming Dangers

Six out of ten children over the age of two play video games across multiple devices that allow for social media interaction.  In fact, more than a third play exclusively on mobile devices. There is a dark side to the social interaction that can take place through these online gaming platforms including cyberbullying, online predators and radicalization for domestic and international terrorist cells. In addition to other online tactics, terrorists continue to exploit online forums to influence and spread violent extremist narratives and promote violent activity.

The top seven dangers to be aware of are:

1.

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Cyberbullying

Anonymity in the online world can grow from poor sportsmanship to targeting novice players and preventing them from advancing. Some cyberbullies will target players directly with hurtful and harmful derogatory messages. Most games allow users to block chat and messages from other users. You can also take a screenshot of offensive discussions and report it to game administrators, and local law enforcement.

2.

Online banking

Privacy

Never create user names that are derivative of real names or include other personal identifiable information. By piecing together data from user names and other information, hackers, and other dangerous entities, may be able to access other existing social media accounts or create entire false digital identities in your child’s name.

3.

Game Controller

Personal Information

Before you throw out your old gaming consoles, make sure you wipe the memory and delete your profiles. Criminals will target old consoles and computers mining for data that will put your personal information at risk.

4.

Child Playing Games on Tablet

Webcams and microphones

Webcams used to be physically separate peripherals that could be disconnected.  More often today laptops and even some gaming consoles have webcams and microphones embedded. These can be controlled remotely by cyberattackers and used to exploit your children. Ensure your webcams and microphones are defaulted to the “off” setting and even consider putting tape over the camera on your computer or console.

5.

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Online predators

Online predators are oftentimes older gamers who use video games to lure and groom young victims.  Predators will often partner with victims in an online game to defeat competitors to build a bond and trust and then make an effort to meet them in person.  Talk to your children regularly about online risks and monitor their gameplay closely.

6.

Mobile gaming

Hidden Fees

Some online games use the “freemium” model, which means they give you some content for free, but for full game features and functions, payment is required.  In 2018 these “free” games generated $61 billion in revenue.  The solution is simple.  Never give your card number out for any “freemium” games.  Regularly check your credit card bills to make sure you aren’t being charged for purchases you didn’t approve.  And switch off “in-app updates” on your child’s smartphone or tablet to prevent them from racking up big bills for in-app purchases without realizing it.

7.

Online Study

Malware

Trojans can modify a legitimate app and upload malicious software and can convert infected machines on a delay timer so victims don’t connect their online gaming to the attack.  Maintain reputable cyber security software that scans all files prior to download.