Predators in Children's Games Creates a Need for Device Training
I read an article from a reputable company whose goal is to educate parents on safe device practices for their children. In this week’s article, they state that sexual predators are not as prevalent as one may think. This is probably true. I feel the predators that are more dangerous to our children are the ones that enter their games and sign in as peers, when they could be 40, 50, or 70 like me. Their goal is to get players to buy items.
I have interviewed 100 eight and nine year olds, and 90% of them have bought outfits to "change their identity." They did this in attempts to avoid bullies who initially made friends with them in the game. Three of the girls had panic attacks, because they weren't even supposed to be playing the game. The game has a dopamine loop that caused these girls to shift their focus from what was happening in class, to what they could possibly win that day in the game. They couldn’t wait to get home to see the prize the game was going to give them for playing daily. This may not be the act of sexual predators, but it is the act of predators who manipulate our children and essentially ‘hook’ them. Their goals are to get the children to play for as often and as long as possible, resulting in purchases.
The game does cause emotional disturbances in children who are not old enough to understand how they are being manipulated. This is why I recommend parents play each game with their children and point out how the creators of the game are manipulating them. Only then will children be truly safe to play alone.
Parents who play with their children will notice immediately, that the game is offering its own on-line currency, which is oten 200 times the value of the dollars they pay. For instance, one game offered 450 of their online currency for $25. To a child, this looks like a really good deal, until they look at the cost of the items they will be purchasing. One of my former students spent more on virtual clothing in a month than she did on real clothes. At first, I thought the purchases she made were from a local store. It took thirty minutes of probing to discover they were made at a virtual store. She had become so immersed in the game that it felt real to her.
Helping your children recognize these predators in their games will make them savvy device users.
Just as your youngster will be required to take driver's training before driving a car, they should have a 'Device Training Program' before they are allowed to play independently.