Online activity increases children's risk of being targeted by predators
With the increase of children using the internet, there has also been an increase in predators online. What started with instant messaging and chatrooms then moved on to social media and now even video games like the popular Fortnite are a target.
The expansion of the internet has made it easier for children to be targeted, as parents aren't able to monitor what their kids are doing as closely. In Fortnite, kids can be teamed up with anyone, and predators could try to befriend children through the game
"So the reason it's so popular with predators is it's an unrestricted environment. Anyone can access anyone. You don't have a parent or guardian hanging over your shoulder actually in the game. So you can go into this virtual game environment and talk to anyone, interact with anyone. They can learn things about you," said Elizabeth Kerr, the Public Information Officer with the North Platte Police Department.
Players are able to form teams, and can communicate via voice chat. Players can become friendly with one another, then choose to group together.
"They may reach out to them through games like Fortnite, but they'll eventually move to different apps, different platforms to communicate with them. They'll communicate through Facebook messenger and things like that," Kerr said.
Profiles online can be anonymous, so not everyone is always who they say they are. Kerr says parents should always monitor their children's online activity and kids should never meet someone in person they don't know in real life.
"They should never agree to meet with someone they don't know. It doesn't matter if they've talked to this person for a year. All of a sudden they move from being online or chatting with them to hey meet me at this truck stop, meet me at this wherever, and it ends up being a completely different person than they thought it was," Kerr said.
If you think your child is being targeted by a predator you should contact police.