FBI warns of dangers of online games for children, launches public service campaign

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) – Federal authorities are warning parents of sexual predators who target children through online gaming platforms, which is the subject of a new public service campaign launched by the FBI on Tuesday New York.

With the school out and the devices turned on, the FBI has issued a new warning to parents against predators who hide anonymously.

The new campaign, titled “It’s Not a Game,” includes a public service announcement designed to encourage parents to talk to their children about what they do online and who they talk to.

It comes at a time when child exploitation cases are up 18% from 2019 and 2020, and the popularity of online games skyrocketed last year as the pandemic forced millions of people. people to stay at home.

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“It has become a bit more of a problem now, because at the height of the pandemic the kids were gone and on their devices,” said FBI Special Agent for Surveillance Seamus Clark.

Cases begin on the play platform’s chat feature, where predators prepare children by complimenting their play.

They eventually migrate to platforms where obscene photos can be more easily transmitted, Clark said.

Predators often seek out images and videos, but Clark said there have been instances where a physical encounter is sought.

Parents can take advantage of parental controls built into many games and devices that limit screen time or hours of use.

“Staying on top of your child’s digital citizenship is a difficult thing to do as things change,” said Dr. Corey Wasserman, pediatrician at Weill Cornell in New York City.

She urged parents to set limits on the use of devices, encourage children to speak out if they are approached during a discussion about anything about their bodies, and remember that digital fingerprints are forever. .

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The FBI campaign was announced in New York City, but is part of a national effort to remind parents and communities of the role they play in helping children avoid predators.

Worldwide, gamers spend over $ 1.6 billion each month to gamble.

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