Cybersecurity: Predators target children on popular online games


LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Tonight, we’re here to kick off our month-long series dedicated to keeping our kids safe online.

Even young children who play games rated “E” for everyone can be at risk. 6 News recently spoke with a Michigan State Police investigator in the Internet Crimes Unit.

Minecraft, Fortnite, Roblox, Zoomerang, Discord and Kik messenger.

If even one of them looks familiar, you’ll want to pay attention.

These are just some of the best games and apps that 6 year olds use. Even if you think your child is too young for social media, chances are they’re already socializing online,” said MSP Trooper Sarah Corlett. “I don’t think parents realize what Roblox really is.

For those of you who don’t know, this is one of the most popular apps among 6-12 year olds. It’s a system of hundreds of games where children create their own avatar and identity, build a virtual life and interact with others, play the game along the way.

“Some of the people on Roblox chatting will try to get the kids to meet them somewhere, so you have to be careful of that as a parent.”

Corlett says similar dangers lurk in virtually every virtual game these days.

“Kids can send information, you put in their birthday age, and people can get that information pretty quickly.”

She says young children assume they are playing with other children their own age, but sometimes that is not the case.

Many are predators who hope to lure children out of cyberspace and into dangerous situations in the real world.

“You don’t know who’s hiding behind those screens.”

And that’s exactly what happened in a recent case that landed before the state police. An 11-year-old girl was in contact with “a friend” who she thought was her age but turned out to be a man in his 20s.

“She sent pictures of herself to this adult. They met on discord then started talking on skype and Kik messenger. They draw you to other chat rooms to talk more privately. It’s on her school’s Chromebook that this was all happening.”

She says that over the past year, Chromebooks have primarily come into play as schools across the state and nation distribute them to countless students to help them learn online from home.

“You can get Roblox and Fortnite and Discord and all the social media like Tik Toc and Zoomerang all of which can be downloaded on Chromebooks so you have to be careful. Just because it’s a school-issued Chromebook doesn’t mean your child is still doing school-issued things.”

Trooper Corlett says chat apps like Discord and Kik Messenger are just as dangerous as games and although young children love creating what they think are harmless videos on the popular Zoomerang app and uploading them to sites like Tik Tok, she says they could tell predators exactly how to find them.

“People who commit acts against children and see where they posted the last video and even if it’s outside and they know the neighborhood they can say oh it looks like McDonald’s in Lansing so it have to be careful even with stuff like that even of you don’t have your location services.

So no matter how many safety measures you think you have in place, she says it’s important to sit down and play with your child and see what they’re up to online and have real conversations with your children before they pick up a device. to log in.

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