Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game Risks

June 10, 2009 -

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) warns parents about a variety of potential threats which he says video games pose to children in an editorial for the Hill Country Times.

Abbott, GamePolitics readers may recall, sued GamesRadar in 2007 for allegedly failing to adequately protect the privacy and safety of children who frequent the website. Abbott later withdrew the suit after GameRadar's parent company, Future, Inc., agreed to make appropriate changes.

While online game predators are the primary focus of his editorial, Abbott also reminds parents about parental control features built into console systems as well as the use of ESRB ratings. The A.G. previously partnered with the ESRB on a 2007 campaign to raise awareness of the video game industry's content rating system. In today's editorial Abbott writes:

When we were young, our parents warned us not to talk to strangers... Today, children are more likely to frequent a digital playground that can be even more dangerous. For example, many game systems have evolved dramatically and now have many of the same capabilities as home computers. In particular, these games’ online interfaces allow users to interact with each other using text, voice or even video chat. Parents should beware of the potential for child predators to use these systems to prey upon and contact their children...

 

Parents should also consider participating in their children’s game-playing activities. Hand-held gaming devices also pose potential risks to children. Many of these devices have wireless-communication capabilities and are popular among kids who use them to communicate with others who are within range, usually about 30 feet. Child predators may be able to exploit this feature in certain public settings...


Comments

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

We need more people like this who are willing to acknowledge video games rather than dismiss them as childish or wastes of time.

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

I can just say that parents should use the "Don't talk to strangers" line and use it in the online world as... such as

"People who you talk to online should only just be online friends. Until you get older and you are able to look after yourself THAT is when you can visit your online friends if they have known you for a long time in the online world."

That is what I am thinking of telling my kids one day, because there are allot of great people I have met online but I only know them as online friends.

Plus there is also another rule of thumb that I have that says...

"Don't use your real name online, or else school bullies in your real life can use that to their advantage."

Because I have a feeling that school bullies could use the online world to taunt their real victims at their local schools, all because the vicim used their real name online, an honest mistake too.

 

TBoneTony

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

Why I see so much news about that?

 

There are THAT much pervs in your country?

 

criadordejogos.wordpress.com

--- Maurício Gomes twitter.com/agfgames

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

Ah, you guys have fallen for politicking. That's why you should really think hard about what you're reading because it SOUNDS so sensible, but it's really not. I mean sure, his advice isn't going to really hurt anyone, but it's fearmongering at it's worst.

The internet is far safer in regards to sexual predators than the real world. After all, you can't physically sexually assault someone over an internet connection. I refer you to the two links Adrian Lopez posted for more in depth findings on online sexual predators.

This culture of fear in the western world has really had an impact on kids being kids. No longer can you go down to the park with friends from your street because heavens, there might be a predator there! You can't play in the dirt or climb trees because you might get germs or be injured. Now we have people like this guy, spreading more irrational fear about online interactions, so now kids can't play online games with their friends because good lord, what if a paedophile is on them internets!

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

I completely agree with you on this one.

It is one thing informing parents what to be aware of.

But it is another thing to tell parents what to do.

This FEAR of the online world is not doing anything good about helping parents get to know something that they have no idea about.

And in the end, kids are only going to be running away from their homes all because of the fear of the online world that their parents are being brainwashed with.

I think that is also what might have lead to the death of "you know who" last year and online games  plus Videogame Addiction were being blamed for it.

Politicians don't know anything about the online world except for all the bad things they can easily exploit to gain political votes, so they are not the ones to even be talking to parents about it because they don't understand the good things about it.

You need a young adult, someone in their mid 20s or even 30s to talk to the parents via TV who has had more experience with the internet.

 

Also online life is not as bad a real life, because in real life you can also be hurt just the same.

TBoneTony

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

"When we were young, our parents warned us not to talk to strangers... Today, children are more likely to frequent a digital playground that can be even more dangerous."

Really? I mean... really?

Aside from the fact that "don't talk to strangers" is, for the most part, not very good advice, the idea that children are more at risk in a "digital playground" than out in the open is pretty ridiculous. As long as you teach your children not to give out their physical location online, a "digital playground" cannot possibly be more dangerous than a real playground -- although neither of them is particularly dangerous.

This is just more political fear mongering by another spotlight-seeking AG.

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

what he says is true, lots of sick people online.

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

Based on the excerpts, he doesn't sound too bad. Nowhere near what I was expecting. Though I'm not sure how practical it would be for a predator to try and use local wireless communication like the DS's pictochat.

EDIT: Just read the complete article. Still not sure about the local wireless being much use to predators, but the rest of what the guy says seems fairly sensible.

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

The DS can't even be used to communicate with strangers. You have to have shared friend codes in order to talk to other people with a DS. There is no way a kid can meet a stranger solely through the DS.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

at least over the internet

岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

岩「…I can see why Hasselbeck's worried about fake guns killing fake people. afterall, she's a fake journalist on a fake news channel」

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

Yah, as far as I know the local wireless ap PictoChat doesn't need you to exchange friends codes... but it only has a range of like 30 feet.

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

As easy as it is to be cynical about this, what he says is infact true. It could apply to any medium really, I mean IM on computers is equally dangerous.

 

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

Well done, because internetz must be totally a safe place for children. Screw freedom of speech for adults, kids must be safe.

The cynical side of videogames (spanish only): http://thelostlevel.blogspot.com/ My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship): http://www.darkknightstrikes.deviantart.com/

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

Not sure what the problem here is.  Judging from the excerpts, he has three main points:

1) There are bad people out there who prey on children.  This is undeniably true.

2) They can reach said children through online and wireless gaming systems.  This is also undeniably true.

3) Parents should therefore be aware of what their children are doing with gaming systems.  This is less of an absolute fact, but few people would argue against it.

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

"1) There are bad people out there who prey on children.  This is undeniably true."

The threat of online predators is largely overblown.

"2) They can reach said children through online and wireless gaming systems."

There's plenty of other places where predators can reach them. Online, however, they can't physically touch them -- so they can only "reach" them with words. The real world is actually riskier than the online world, and even those risks are generally overblown.

"3) Parents should therefore be aware of what their children are doing with gaming systems."

I should hope so.

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

 "The threat of online predators is largely overblown."

Overblown =/= it does not exists, so therefore the statement is still true

 

"There's plenty of other places where predators can reach them... The real world is actually riskier than the online world, and even those risks are generally overblown."

and parents should look out for those places TOO... NOT an excuse to ignore the internet.

 

"Online, however, they can't physically touch them -- so they can only "reach" them with words."

Until a predator sends the kid a "We're good friends, meet me at X" message... Which is pretty much how these things happen.

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

The danger might be overblown, but it's still there.

More importantly, the AG isn't trying to fight this by restricting the ability of adults to communicate over the Xbox and other systems, like Rodrigo was implying, but taking the much more sensible approach of advising parents to actually parent.

Re: Texas Attorney General Warns Parents About Video Game ...

"The danger might be overblown, but it's still there."

No it isn't.  It's ridiculous to even suggest that it's there.  I mean, even if the victim is at all recognizable (many people adopt a fictitious personality when in an online game), in order for game stalking to even be a remote threat, an online stalker would have to be willing to travel thousands of miles to meet up with his victim ('cos in an online game you have no idea where players are located).  So this stalker would have to pay travel costs and when he got to his teenaged girl victim he's more than likely going to find she's a 50 year old balding man.

Why bother with internet stalking when there's a school within walking distance?

 
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