I already shared this on my Facebook page, but I wanted to talk a bit more about it, for parents who may not think this could happen to them because they talk to their child.
I have open communication with my son, but that doesn’t always mean that kids tell us everything. And when they do, we need to really listen. Put down our phones. Pay attention. This could happen to you and your kids need to understand the dangers that come with gaming online.
When it comes to doing anything online, as a parent I’ve always tried to teach my boys to be SMART about it. Being smart keeps you safe, and remembering the rules can stop dangers from happening when you least expect them. Being smart means:
S: Personal Information is a secret. Never allow your kids to share where they live, their phone number. For the xbox you can go in and block this information in the privacy settings. But that won’t stop your kids from telling someone, so make sure they know the dangers of sharing private info with others.
M: Never meet anyone online without a parent or caregiver with you. It’s unsafe to meet people you don’t know, just like stranger danger. Teach your kids this hard fast rule.
A: Never accept emails or messages from people you don’t know. This one is hard as kids who game online often invite those online to play in the party rooms for the games they are playing, never knowing who they are inviting. Teach them only to invite the friends they know in person and not ones they have met in a chat room.
R: Not everyone online is who they say they are. Remember Reality. The online world is like a ghost in the machine, people tell lies, made up stories, all because they can. Your child may be talking to a predator without even realizing it, believing they are who they say they are because we teach our children to trust others. It’s not like in the real world. The online world is unreal with a false safety net that kids have a tendency to believe in.
T: Tell adults what is going on when working or playing games online. If it makes you uncomfortable what is happening, you shouldn’t be doing it. But always tell a parent about your online friends, who they are, so that your parents are aware of who is in your life.
If you want to know what happened with my son, the scariness of it, the dangers. Click on the image above and jump in on the Facebook conversation. Or go here to read the Important Message I shared with Parents.
As parents our job isn’t easy. We need to listen to our kids, and when something doesn’t add up, or seems wrong, we need to take action. Sure, your kids may not understand, may even think you are being mean. But it’s your job to be the caregiver, supporter, and protector for your children.
My situation could happen to you. My situation could have ended up badly, had I not taken action to protect my son from the very real dangers that lurk in the online world. It goes beyond cyberbullying, maleware, hidden fees and sharing information.
Educating your kids is important, but listening for clues, knowing and being present in their lives is equally as important and it could save your kids from becoming victims in the online world. Don’t let your kids add people they don’t know, talk to them and keep talking until they understand this isn’t just about a game that’s fun to play. It’s about life and real life can be scary.