Should I Worry About My Teen’s Online Friends?
The life of gaming has taken on a whole different meaning with the surge of technology especially over the past 5 years. Instead of playing games alone at home or going to an arcade, teens can play virtually anywhere at any time with anyone. Although this advancement is remarkable, on the flip side, the free will of gaming can be frightening as well.
Not only do parents have to worry about the possibility of gaming addiction that has become more common and deemed a real disorder by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018, but who their kid is playing with online can be a real concern. Friends that they hang out with from school or their extracurricular activities can be monitored more readily than those players they call friends in cyberspace.
One of the main apprehensions for adolescents playing with online players is that with some of these players can be predators trying to gain information from their next victim by grooming them through a game. Persons of all ages can sign up to play games and hide behind an avatar or a character that does not reveal their true identity. The key to combating the “friends” that an adolescent may make online is to monitor their gaming friends just as if they were hanging out with someone in person.
Adolescents begin to trust the people they meet online and start freely giving them information the longer they engage with them. If they are talking to the wrong person, they could put themselves in a vulnerable position which could eventually lead to sex trafficking or sexual abuse in a worst case scenario. Here are some helpful tips to help parents to know what they should be looking for.
Predators are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Not all of the predators who are trying to persuade adolescents to them use explicit language or graphic verbiage. In fact, a predator is merely trying to bond with them and will go to any lengths to do so. Instruct teens to not give information about where they live, what time their parents are at work, or what school they go to. Predators are savvy in piecing information together to get what they want.
Predators are all ages.
Some predators will pretend to be kids and others will be the age that they are. Historically, the predators who pretend to be kids seem to go from a quick “hi” series of statements straight into full on cyber sexual abuse. The adult predators have been shown to attempt to turn the adolescent against their parents by claiming “they are the only one who understands what they are going through.”
While not all friends are bad necessarily, taking the time to see who a teen is gaming with can help reduce the chance of misjudging a possible dangerous situation. Being proactive for them with parental controls can help to use gaming for what it is meant for – virtual fun.
Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center leads the way with progressive, evidence-based programming to most effectively treat each individual adolescent while focusing on the uniqueness of each client. Healing the mind, the body, and the spirit as one in the same can make the biggest difference in staying sober.
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