Multi-player social gaming is fun, but with millions of players from different parts of the world logging in to social gaming apps, the inevitable has occurred. Recent reports show that sexual predators are now turning their attention to social gaming as it provides them with opportunity to prey on unsuspecting minors.
Sexual Predators Infiltrate Social Gaming
According to figures released by Crimes against Children Research Center, one in five children in the age group of 10 – 17 report that they get unwanted sexual attention online. According to the Horry County Sheriff’s Office, most of these crimes are never reported. The study also revealed the disturbing fact that only 25% of the children who become victims of sexual predators online informed their parents.
One great example of this is Fortnite Battle Royal. This is a multi-player video game that has become very popular with children as well as adults and has a fan base all over the world. The game involves 100 players trapped on an island, who have to fight against one another till only one the champ remains. There’s a chat room option available in this game that allows Fortnite fans to interact and share their experiences with each other.
However, law enforcement officers say that sexual predators are using Fortnite’s chat rooms to target children. The office of the Horry County Sheriff says that it receives referrals from social media apps every week and sometimes several times per month. These referrals can be phone calls from distressed parents.
In some cases, Fortnite and social media sites refer the complaints they receive to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and then these complaints are referred to the Sheriff’s Office. However, the Sheriff’s Office is unable to reveal the exact methods they use while investigating these referrals as they do not want to alert predators.
Pay More Attention To Social Gaming Interactions
Lt. Sherri Smith, who supervises the Horry County Sheriff’s Office’s Internet Crimes against Children Task Force, says that parents once used to worry about strangers approaching their children, but now they have to worry about predators behind screens.
Modesty Brantley, mother of a ten-year-old boy, was lucky because her son reported something that put her on the alert. She said that her son had made a friend while playing Fortnite and that they had both decided to get back together at a particular time to play the game. However, Modesty was worried because she could neither recognize the name nor figure out the identity of the person who was interested in her son.
Modesty now carefully supervises who her son chats with while playing Fortnite. She makes sure that he plays only with people he knows and can trust, preferably people whose parents they are friends with.
From Gaming Apps To Social Media
Players can play Fortnite with friends on PC’s, smartphones, tablets, and game consoles. The game includes text chat as well as voice chat functionalities, which can get children dangerously close to unscrupulous strangers. The modus operandi of these sexual predators is to usually try to lure unsuspecting children to other social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, which offer more privacy.
Unsuspecting adults and teenagers can also get cheated out of their money. Although Fortnite is free to use, it encourages players to purchase accessories that they can use in their game. This leads players to innocently reveal credit card details to friends who can then make unauthorized use of those details.
Tips For Parents To Protect Their Kids
The authorities have cautioned parents to be real careful about who their children associate with on social networking sites and multi-player social gaming apps. Some of the guidelines provided by the authorities to help parents protect their kids from predators who are using social gaming to target them are listed below.
Parents should stay aware of their children’s online activities; advise their children to never share photos and personal information with strangers; tell children to only play with their real life friends and disable the chat functionality of social gaming apps.
Parents should also advise their children never to play in closed rooms. The doors should be kept open so that you can listen to their conversation with their gaming buddies. It is also important for parents to make sure that they have complete access to their children’s social media accounts as well as smartphone or tablet.

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