Did you know gaming3An online sexual predator only uses social media sites and chat rooms to lure kids into illicit conversations - Right? My children are just in their room playing video games, so I think they’re pretty safe.

Many parents may not be aware of the lengths that online sexual predators will go to in the effort to meet your child. Do you know how a predator can get information from your child while he is playing an online game, such as X-Box Live or through the PlayStation or a handheld gaming device? In 2012, Microsoft, Sony, Disney, and Electronic Arts shut down the accounts of over 3,500 registered sex offenders in a mission called “Operation Game Over.” Now in 2017, how many more sexual predators can get online and end up having a conversation with your son or daughter? The FBI estimates there are 750,000 child predators online at any one time.

“A lot of online gamers feel very safe because they’re in their house in front of a TV and this person is just on a headset, so they feel pretty safe,” said Genevie Strickland, Case Manager/Director of Education for the Morgan Nick Foundation. “They think they are not telling anything because they are in conversations that doesn’t give personal information, but we get a lot of stories of parents walking past the room and hearing their kids saying, ‘Oh yeah, I live Alma, Arkansas’ or ‘I go to this school’ and the kid doesn’t realize they are giving out personal information.”

The predator may not ask for all information during the first conversation with the child, rather they first groom the child. According to, grooming is the process by which a child predator gains the trust of a victim by building a relationship with the child and then breaking down his or her defenses. After the predator has built a foundation of trust with the child, he begins to make some sort of sexual contact with the child, whether it is sending explicit messages and photos or attempting to meet in person to commit sexual abuse.

“Unfortunately, the predators are savvy people and they know how to work [children] for information,” Strickland said. “They get the kids engaged and focused in a game to the point they don’t even realize they are giving out personal information.”

Online sexual predators may use any of these tactics while playing an online game with your child (*from

  • Prey on teen’s desire for romance, adventure, and sexual information
  • Develop trust and secrecy: manipulate child by listening to and sympathizing with child’s problems and insecurities
  • Affirm feelings and choices of child
  • Exploit natural sexual curiosities of child
  • Ease inhibitions by gradually introducing sex into conversations or exposing them to pornography
  • Flatter and compliment the child excessively, sends gifts, and invests time, money, and energy to groom child
  • Develop an online relationship that is romantic, controlling, and upon which the child becomes dependent
  • Drive a wedge between the child and his or her parents and friends
  • Make promises of an exciting, stress-free life, tailored to the youth’s desire
  • Make threats, and often will use child pornography featuring their victims to blackmail them into silence

How do you protect your child from online sexual predators while using a gaming system? There are solutions, including not allowing online game play or by placing restrictions when they request to play online. The game consoles have parental controls which can restrict strangers from accessing a child’s profile. also suggests parents play the online game with the child.toomuchTV

Strickland said speaking with your children about the dangers of online gaming, how to not share personal information, not allowing a stranger to connect with the child, is paramount to keeping away online sexual predators. She said if the child encounters a suspected sexual predator, they should immediately tell their parent or a trusted adult.

Locally, parents can contact the Benton Police Department at 501-778-1171 or 501-315-TIPS.  Individuals also may send an anonymous crime tip about this incident to CRIMES (274637) with the keyword BNPD in the body of the text or go to to leave a tip.  A crime tip can also be submitted via the official Benton Police Department app found on iTunes and Google Play.