Children and teens are among the most active internet users while also being the least prepared. Your child may not give much added thought to what it means to talk to a stranger or give out their phone number in a chat room which makes some of their actions very dangerous. Since you are allowing your child to spend a considerable amount of time playing online video games, it is important you know the most dangerous things kids are doing online.
The Most Dangerous Things Kids are Doing Online
1. Talking to Online Predators
While there is a chance that your child may come in contact with a predator in person, it is even more likely that your child will come in contact with an online predator. This is one, if not the most dangerous thing kids are doing online without even knowing it. Due to the size and lack of boundaries on the gaming world and communication, skilled predators are able to lurk in children’s games to connect with them and ultimately blackmail them. Contact with an online predator can go from a chat one day to being abducted shortly after. Talking to online predators is the most dangerous thing your child may be doing online. Ensure that you know who your child is chatting with online. Make sure that your child knows not to speak with strangers and tell your child to never give out private information, share any of their body parts either on a live stream or a picture and never leave a public chat to speak with a someone they don’t personally know.
Cyberbullying is dangerous for many reasons. Cyberbullying may lead to self harm, depression and even suicide. Whether your child is being cyberbullied or your child is cyberbullying others, there are risks and issues associated with both. It is essential that you get down to the bottom of what is happening with your child, why they are being bullied and/or why they are bullying others. Take time to teach your child how to be a good digital citizen, how to be kind and how to spend their gaming time responsibly. Do not assume that your child is making good choices online if you haven’t set the appropriate expectations. Cyberbullying is one of the most dangerous things kids are doing online and it can have serious repercussions.
3. Giving out Personal Information
When your child is in voice chats or text chats in video games or on Discord, they likely feel comfortable with who they are talking to. However, the reality is that they don’t know who is on the other side of the chat. Giving out any personal information can be very dangerous. Things like a password or an address may seem obvious not to share, but there are other pieces of information your child may be sharing that can very harmful. Children should be reminded to never share their real name, their family members names, where they live (address, city, etc.), credit card information, pets names etc. Many people use things that are important to them as their passwords. The more private information that is shared with others online, the more likely they are to experience a privacy violation. Even in a private chat with people your child knows, they are still at risk. We have seen many cases where “friends” break into other players accounts and share their details in the group. Sharing private information online is very dangerous.
4. Falling for Scams
While you may believe that your child wouldn’t fall for a glaring scam, children fall for scams online all the time. Scams that offer your child value such as free access to an online game, free in-game currency or special features in a game are scams that they are more likely to fall into. In many cases, children have not been burned by a scam, so they have no reason to worry that they are falling into a trap. They have a hard time understanding the severity of falling for a scam, which can be quite extreme. Your child’s accounts likely has a credit card linked to them if they have ever purchased anything within the game, and in most cases, it is linked to your credit card. One wrong click or sharing information with the wrong person can result in an exorbitant amount of money being stolen.
5. Saying and Doing Things that Will Live Online Forever
One thing that we all know about the internet is that nothing ever goes away. While kids used to pass notes with a message that was hurtful or a story that was embarrassing, there was an opportunity to destroy the evidence. Now, there is no such thing as destroying evidence. Things that are shared online, never go away, including things said in gaming chats or on other gaming platforms. They have a way of resurfacing and following you until the end of time. You did not have to deal with this growing up, where as now, children need to learn this message before they start using going online. Nothing ever leaves. Children are writing things in online gaming chats about others, about themselves, sharing pictures (some which may be indecent) with other people, and more. Whether they are sending messages, pictures or videos to their friends or people via email or chats, they need to understand there is no guarantee that the information will stay or get to the person it was intended for. These comments, pictures and videos have a way of being altered, shared in places they were not meant for or sent to people who should not see them which leaves your child in a vulnerable and dangerous situation. The risk of these acts coming back later to haunt them or ruin their reputation is very possible. Sharing things online that do not paint a positive picture of themselves or others can be extremely harmful to your child.
Conclusion on the most dangerous things kids are doing online
In conclusion, it is no secret that in-game chats, chats online in any form and the internet in general can be a scary and dangerous place. There are many dangers of the internet, ones that our children should be taught instead of learning the hard way. The risks of gaming are not limited to these 5 as there are many more risks. While there are dangers, there are also a lot of positives. The internet has changed the world and with education and open communication, you can ensure that you child only engages in its benefits.