Most parents do it: let their phones or tablets play babysitter to their kids while they get a few things done. Normally, this is harmless, but there are some scary things that have come to light that should have you paying closer attention to your child’s online activity if you don’t already.
*WARNING, GRAPHIC IMAGE TOWARD END OF POST*
Roblox is an online game that can be played on game consoles, mobile devices, and computers. With its cool 3D characters and world that is similar-looking to Minecraft, Roblox allows users to create their own avatars, create their own games, and go on adventures.
According to its website, Roblox sees about 48 million users every month and those people can “play, chat, and collaborate on creative projects.” The problem with this, as father Ian Morris found out, is that many of those online users are sick predators.
Morris claims that he decided to play as his eight-year-old son after reading an article about the game and that he became sickened within 15 minutes as messages started coming in telling him that he was “cute” and “sexy.” AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD.
Morris ventured into different areas and rooms in the game, including a pool and water-slide area where he was immediately groomed by another user who asked his gender and how old he was. What happened next, as Morris told The Sun, would make any parent’s stomach turn.
They asked me to follow them to their house, then into the bedroom and asked me to lay down on top of them and then they started with the sexual movements.
They said ‘you look cute’ and ‘you look sexy’.
It was just sickening reading all the comments pop up. My kids were completely oblivious as to what the words and stuff meant.
Many have come to the defense of Roblox, saying that Morris is blowing things out of proportion and that the game is safe. If you do decide to let your kids play this game, we just hope you’ll keep a very close eye on them.
A cautious mother in Australia, Alicia, finally allowed her eight-year-old daughter to download a very popular social media game/app called Musical.ly. This app is targeted at children under 13 and allows users to create their own music videos and then share them with their friends. Alicia says her daughter was the only one out of all her friends who hadn’t downloaded the game.
After setting up a private account, all was well, or so Alicia thought. Two days later, while doing her daughter’s hair, she noticed messages coming through on her daughter Charlie’s iPad.
“the Real Justin Bieber,” an account that looked legit, somehow found Charlie, who only had seven friends on the app, and sent her the following messages:
Alicia quickly took the iPad to the police station but was told they were limited on what they could do, especially since the user’s profile made it virtually impossible to track down where they were.
The new peer pressure felt by children and put on their parents these days as friends download popular apps is one we haven’t had to deal with much in the past. Before downloading any app, I think it’s important to research the app in question and watch your child play until you’re satisfied with how safe it is.
3. Fire Fairie
This one comes out of Russia, where an online graphic that looks like it could be from a popular animated series called ‘Winx Club: School of Witches’ is prompting children to do the unimaginable.
Five-year-old Sofia Ezhova was one of many children to fall victim to this horrific prank. The online graphic tells children that if they want to magically transform into a “fire fairie,” they must do the following:
At midnight when everybody is asleep, get up from your bed and go around the room three times, then say the magical words: ‘Alfey kingdom, sweet little fairies, give me the power, I’m asking you.’
Then go to the kitchen silently, so no one notices you or the magic of the words will disappear. Switch on the gas stove, all four burners. But do not light it. You don’t want to get burns, do you?
Then go to sleep. The magic gas will come to you, you will breathe it while sleeping and in the morning, when you wake up, say: ‘Thank you Alfeya, I’ve become a fairy.’ And you will become a real fairy of fire.
What the hell is wrong with people?
After playing this game, Sofia suffered extreme burns from switching on the gas burners.
Several similar accounts have been reported by families whose children tried this ritual to become ‘fire fairies,’ a transition which would have obvious appeal to little ones.
The moral of these stories is that the online world is massive and easy for predators to use to their advantage and hide behind. While we don’t want to scare parents, it’s good to be aware of these things and take precautions, such as taking care of the parental controls on your devices, monitoring your children and limiting their screen-time (dammit!), and opting for safer alternatives where they exist, such as YouTube for Kids instead of regular YouTube, where often, videos that look safe and cartoony can end up being riddled with seriously iffy content and f-bombs.
Because people suck, and this is why we can’t have nice things.