Sexual predators reportedly targeting kids on video games and apps

A must-read New York Times article says would-be predators are using online games such as Fortnite and Minecraft, as well as apps like Instagram, to connect directly with kids.
5:14 | 12/09/19

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Transcript for Sexual predators reportedly targeting kids on video games and apps
story. A new report for parents featured in "New York Times" detailing how predators are using popular video games and social media platforms to target kids and so T.J. Holmes is going to break this down for us. Every parent in here, right, what's the safest place for your kid to be? In your home under your roof but you got to get out of that mind-set. They could be right in the room next to you but if they have that headset on playing a game do you know who they're talking to, do you know who they're chatting with? You think your child is safe under your roof but you are not because you are allowing them access to total strangers. Online gaming now an increasingly popular place for your kids to be targeted for a new kind of stranger danger. Technology allows all of us including our kids to find anything that we want on the internet, predators can use that same technology to find our kids. Ang extensive report in "The New York Times" charts how video games and online chat apps are the latest hunting grounds where your children are being targeted. In one case a mother found graphic language and imagery of sexual acts posted by others on her 13-year-old son's discord account, a platform for gamers to chat while playing. Discord says they have a zero tolerance policy for any illegal activity and work closely with authorities to keep our users safe. Experts point out after reaching out to potential victim, predators often try to groom children through gifts such as gaming currency like minecraft coins and fortnite V bucks leading them down a path to eventually sending explicit photos online. Predators out there were putting up materials they were hopeful the kids would watch so they would desensitize them. The industry puts the role of monitoring what's going on right back in parents' laps. The entertainment software association tells us we encourage parents to play with their kids and utilize parental controls to help ensure an appropriate experience including limiting or blocking online interactions with other players. "Gma" teamed up with south Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson and a group of 11-year-olds to take a closer look at the potential dangers of playing popular video games. The kids took turns playing fortnite and apex legends, both multiplayer games that can connect your child from 1 to 100 strangers. In a matter of minutes the profanity starts. Language so inappropriate we can't let you hear it. The South Carolina attorney general notes just how easy the communication is and it's more than the foul language. That's where the predators are going, where the kids are. All right, now parents out there, what's the takeaway? Most of these games have ways to have parental controls. You can keep them from being able to talk to people to just talking to certain people and a lot think, look, I'm not adept to all this technology. That is not an excuse anymore. Parents, you need to be engaged and know what your kids are doing online. All great advice, T.J. We'll delve into it more joined by Rachel Simmons. You heard what T.J. Was saying. I know you were nodding along as well. These predators take advantage of the children's trust but they also exploit the parents' trust as well. It's so true because you think as a parent the most violence your child is going to see during a video game is on screen. You don't think the violence is coming from your peer players and that's why we as parents, we've got to up our game. And the predators make these kids terrified to tell their It's so true. They thrive on the guilt and the shame of the kids so this is why it's so important for parents to open up a communication channel with their kids. One of the big mistakes we've made as parents to say things to our kids like one bad move online will ruin your life. You know what that does it makes them too afraid to come to you if they do make a mistake. Instead say you're going to make mistake, it's okay. You can come to me to matter what. Is there more you can do as a parent? Absolutely. So one thing parents need to remember is technology is a privilege, not a right in your you get to say no sometimes. You also get to ask what your child is doing online so spot check their conversations. If when they go to a friend's house you say where are you going, who are you going with, you know, is an adult going to be there you're asking the same What they do online. Secondly, check for changes in their behavior. If they get secretive and freak out when you try to see what they're doing online that's a sign you may need to be paying more attention and finally, if you're going to punish them a little offline time is fine but don't banish them. Here's the deal, a kid who wants to go online will find a way. Our job as parents is to teach them how to have a responsible relationship with technology. It is not to say like let's bury our heads in the sand and hope they never find it again. You have to find a way to communicate with your child. You do. Some other things just to remember that parents want to tell their kids and this is a conversation parents want to have today with their kids. Never accept a gift or favor online from somebody because this is how the foundation is laid for exploitation. Another thing, a kid should never keep an online relationship secret. Always tell a parent. Never share a suggestive photo and never take a conversation on a video game to Facebook or another platform. Thank you for this, Rachel. This is all very, very helpful.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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