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Monday, January 16, 2006

Teen exploited while gaming

This is the first report I've seen of predation in the gaming environment, which only further confirms that wherever kids are, online predators soon will be too. A 26-year-old man in California has been accused of grooming a 14-year-old gamer via Xbox Live, Microsoft's service for real-time game chat (voice and text). "Microsoft says that the safety and security of Xbox Live users is 'a top priority' and that it works closely with global law enforcement to ensure child safety," reports Eurogamer.net. "Grooming" is when a pedophile makes contact with a minor and tries to establish an online relationship with the goal of sexual exploitation. In the California case, "police say that in November the [14-year-old] gave [26-year-old Ronnie] Watts his home address and phone number and they met in a Santa Rosa park, where the molestation allegedly took place." Eurogamer adds that the new Xbox 360 has a "wide range of parental controls [that allow] parents to disable Live access entirely on specified profiles and limit access to games and DVDs based on particular ratings." The forthcoming Sony Playstation 3 and Nintendo Revolution will also have parental controls. The Nintendo DS, available now, "took a different tack when launching Wi-Fi Connection, the new service that allows DS owners to play online. Players must swap their 'Friend Code' - a series of digits unique to their DS unit - offline before they can play together over the Internet, and there is no way of communicating directly with others," Eurogamer earlier reported. To understand how grooming works, see pp. 7-8 of the British Home Office's "Good practice guidance for the moderation of interactive services for children."

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