How to stop your kids from talking to strangers on gaming systems

Videogame systems not only play games; they also are social media devices.

(WTSP) -- Millions of kids will unwrap a new gaming system this Christmas.

“You’re buying a whole new social device,” said Julio Alvarado, manager of Gamers Spot in Westshore Plaza.

Alvarado explained a lot of parents think the consoles just let their kids play video games.

“Think of your kid talking in real time with somebody they don’t even know and becoming friends,” he said.

On gaming consoles, such as the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, users can talk to anyone, anywhere. Alvarado demonstrated how easy it is to change those settings on an Xbox One.

Under the account setting, simply select “Privacy & Online Safety.” Then, parents can customize the parental controls. That way, kids can only talk to friends, not strangers.

Parents can also limit how long kids are playing. The Nintendo Switch even has an app to control that from your phone.

Some of the gaming systems also collect information, like what games your kids are playing and the conversations they’re having. Parents can block that in the privacy settings as well.

“It actually kicks them out, saying, ‘You’ve reached your time limit for the day, thank you for playing,’” Alvarado said.

Police are urging parents to get involved, so law enforcement doesn’t have to.

Jamie Brown of the Winter Haven Police Department said parents call them to find out whether sexual predators live near them.

“And yet they’re allowing these predators into their homes through these gaming systems without their knowledge,” she said.

That’s why it’s important for parents to monitor their kids’ gaming systems, a new form of “stranger danger” in the cyber age.

© 2018 WTSP-TV


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