Online child abuse triples during pandemic; pedophiles using gaming headsets
Cybersecurity Expert Says “The Dangers Of Gaming Far Outweigh The Dangers Of Traditional Social Media”
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Sformer delinquents use popular games like Fortnite or Minecraft to seduce children. It’s become a serious problem, especially as gaming usage has skyrocketed during the pandemic.
This month, Kentucky State Police arrested a man using PlayStation to solicit sex from children, prompting News 40 to investigate.
Data from the Observer Research Foundation shows that since the start of the pandemic, online child sexual abuse and exploitation has increased globally, in some countries by up to 400%.
Veteran Cyber Cop Mike Lemon developed Cyber Safe Families to protect children from voices on the other side of the helmet.
“The number of exploited children is at least three times higher than a few years ago,” Lemon reported.
Lemon says the game is far more dangerous than traditional social media sites.
“If you’re a villain, if you’re a predator and you try to talk to a child when you send messages, screenshots, … photos, videos, everything is recorded by Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, so that can be used as evidence, but when you’re playing and talking live, none of that is recorded,” he explained. “For predators, it’s actually police assurance that whatever they do, whatever they say, will not be used against them in court.”
In the United States, online child sexual abuse and exploitation cases more than doubled in the first half of 2020, compared to the start of 2019 and this year.
According to the Kentucky State Police, taking the time to learn who your children are talking to on their headsets is very helpful.
“It’s scary for parents,” said KSP Post 3 Trooper Daniel Priddy. “I have parents who ask all the time what they can do to make sure their kids stay safe.”
Priddy says proactively establishing what information can’t be shared is a good way to start.
“Make sure they know how important it is not to give out personal information, give any kind of photos or videos or anything like that to people online that they don’t don’t know,” he advised. “And just because you know someone online doesn’t mean you know who they really are. It is very important that children know this before they even start going online and playing these online games.
Lemon says having parental controls in place can prevent your child from becoming a victim.
“It will be up to the parents to really lead this fight,” conceded Lemon. “You can set up a lot of these games where they can play online with other people, but their account is private and they’re limited in being able to chat with people who can or can talk to them with their voice.”
Both men say the best thing to do is just get involved and earn their trust so their faith doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.