In part one of this three part story the dangers of human traffickers using online gaming forums were introduced and covered briefly with the hope of educating the public about this new and very real threat. Now it is time to talk about those who are threatened and those who have become victims of online gaming menaces.
Online multiplayer action survival and building games, like Fortnite and Minecraft, are great places to interact and play games with your friends or people all over the world. But they also pose severe risks to children and teens. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) stated that it believed these games were putting children at risk of online grooming. One report even states that a mother overheard attempts to groom her own 10-year-old son through his Xbox videogame console as he played Fortnite while sitting next to her. She heard an adult male address her son by name through her TV speakers and ask her son questions about sex.
The virtual building blocks game, Minecraft, is no different. The premise of the online mega-game franchise Minecraft is simple. Perhaps that is one of the reasons millions of children across the world are attracted to the game. But as a court in the United Kingdom has heard, the Minecraft world being created by Adam Isaac was not a virtual playground to explore imagination. His world was a trap – a trap to lure young real-life prey into conversation and to abuse. Isaac has now been jailed for two years and eight months for sexually grooming two children, persuading them to carry out sexual acts and exposing himself online. He met them through Minecraft, but the game is just one of scores of internet video multiplayer games attracting children and adults alike in the millions every day, every hour, every minute, everywhere.
A recently released film is showing the horrific story of how a 14-year-old boy was lured to his death by an older man he met online gaming. Breck Bednar was murdered by Lewis Daynes in 2014 in England. Four police forces have teamed up to produce “Breck’s Last Game,” which aims to educate and protect boys from online grooming. The short film, which will be rolled out in schools across the country, explains how the teenager played games online with friends, on a server run by his killer. Daynes, then 18, groomed Breck over 13 months before luring him to his flat where he fatally stabbed him.
If this young man was at risk for innocently playing video games and trying to make friends then so are the millions of kids who do the same. The reason police are encouraging individuals to watch Brock’s story is not to just scare them and make them horrified for the rest of the day; it is to give these kids the warning that kids like Brock never received. That warning is that there are real dangers in these virtual worlds. Criminals like predators and human traffickers love low risk meeting places like online gaming because they can remain faceless while grooming possible targets and do not have to show themselves until meeting a victim face to face.
For more information on the efforts and warnings by the NSPCC visit: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/online-games-helping-children-play-safe/
For more info on online gaming grooming by criminals visit: https://www.teensafe.com/blog/predators-groom-children-gaming-online/
For the full story on the Minecraft case visit: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4140316/Adam-Isaac-22-groomed-two-young-boys-Minecraft.html
For the full story on Breck’s Last Game visit: https://leics.police.uk/news-appeals/news/2018/09/19/brecks-last-game-film-warns-of-dangers-of-online-grooming