Posted by David N Gentile at 3/1/2017 7:05:00 AM
Parents it is ok to be nosey….
Recently, I read an article sharing a warning from Lain Morrison, former professional Rugby player, regarding his experience with a very popular video game, Roblox. In general, I am a big fan of today’s video games. They can help children learn to problem solve as well as develop rich vocabulary. That said, as parents we must be like detectives. Even when our children are less than two feet away on a device we must worry and investigate.
Morrison found indecent messages from strangers on the online version of Roblox directed to his eight year old son. The messages asked personal questions and encourage his son to use his character in and indecent manner. He said: "I just had it in my head that I needed to ask the boys if they were playing on this Roblox game after reading about it online.
"They said they had it so I've said let me have a look at it. From the outlook it looks completely fine, you can go into different rooms and in the first room I wasn't sent anything untoward. "Then I went in this waterslide room with a pool and immediately was propositioned. They said 'hi' so I said 'hi' and they asked if I was a boy or girl and my age so I said I was an eight-year-old boy. "They asked me to follow them to their house, then into the bedroom and asked me to lay down on top of them and then they started with the sexual movements. "They said 'you look cute' and 'you look sexy'. It was just sickening reading all the comments pop up. My kids were completely oblivious as to what the words and stuff meant (www.hulldailymail.co.uk).
As parents, we have the conversations with our children about talking to strangers in the park. We make sure we are careful of where they physically are at all times. What we sometimes forget, is that although they are in our homes sitting at the dining room table on an Ipad they are not free from potential danger. So what should you do as a parent? I do not advocate cutting them off entirely as that is simply not preparing them for the World we live in. Instead, be “nosey”! Ask lots of questions, demand to go on their accounts daily just to fish around and see what pops up. Ask them to teach you their favorite games if you are not savvy. It will be quality time and also offer you the opportunity to safeguard their virtual playground. Just like when you take them to the park, you look around to see that the swing set chains aren’t rusted or there aren’t any strangers lurking around. You have to do the same on their devices. Lastly, create a relationship where your children know they can talk to you about any encounters that make them uncomfortable.
There is no way to ensure that they won’t receive any strange messages while playing games like Roblox, but you can ensure that you know about them. There are a lot of amazing games and experiences for your children, make sure you are aware of their favorites!
David Gentile, Superintendent of Schools