The dangers of the internet for kids has been known for practically three decades. Given all the tech advancements since then, that seems like a very long time. So why are we still facing online gaming risks with kids not being safe online and when will we finally overcome these problems? I know as a parent I feel one of my primary jobs is to simply provide for my children; give them the morals and opportunities in life that they will need to be successful. When parents buy their children outlandish stuff, they usually going through in hopes of enriching their lives or at least that sense of accomplishment that we set out for ourselves. Sometimes, even though we feel we are helping our children or making them happy, we can sometimes inadvertently put them in danger and expose them to the cruelties of this world.
As a father of a child who has autism, my son has become very fond of games (to the point that it has become very part of his routine.) One of the subtle drawbacks of being autistic is not picking up on sarcasm or knowing when people are laughing with you or at you. This is a very important skill to at least understand when online gaming in a social manner. As the parent, I initially thought this could be a way for my child to meet other kids, interact, and eventually find friends. But I learned the hard way that bullying is very real. I happened to stumble upon kids in a game chat making fun of him, unaware that the joke was directed towards himself. From that point forward, I do not allow my children to chat with others online, if that they do not know them in person.
So, the question I have for you is: "How much do you monitor your child's online activity?" Did you know that kids are being exposed to predators and others who want to steal personal information from them? Even giving away their name can be a problem. People take this a step further by insisting that kids find parents credit cards to give away that sensitive information. As a parent, I implore you to tighten the reigns you give your kids of online gaming and advise them to not share personal information with others such as credit card numbers, addresses, schools they attend, etc. Sure, this sounds like common sense to us as adults, but children do not know any better. The world is getting smaller as the internet grows, but this does not mean it has to become more dangerous for our children. Be the parent who regularly checks up on their gaming and gets involved with what they do as much as you can; they will thank you in the long run.
Here's a good article on the stats associated with this topic.
“One in five respondents to study of primary pupils claimed to have met someone they had only previously known online”