This blog is crappy to write. But it's just time to talk.....
Video games. PS3's PS4's, X-Boxes and all of that jazz. I don't play em, but your kids probably do. Here's the lowdown from my "all things digital" research. Here is my take on the issue.
You've heard me talk about Social Media and kids. I've given many seminars to parents and teens, and continue to do so because it IS important and relavent. EVERY PARENT needs to learn the basics, for bullying, for depression, and now, for terrorists. (Email me to schedule a group workshop for parents and teens!)
Yep, this stuff is getting scary. It's on the tips of our tongues, on the news, popping up on our Newsfeeds. I am all USA, do not live in fear, continue as normal, BUT, let's take a moment to get real.
Terrorists have been known to recruit using American made Social Media. For years I've talked to groups about things to watch for on Twitter with parents and teens. For the most part, Twitter is fairly transparent unless they are doing private messaging. Even if you are blocked, their friends will see the red flags if your child does start to go radical.
This brings us to the here and now. All. New. Territory.
I'm not a gamer but I know enough about the online components to get by. Terrorists are now using "mods" (Modifications of popular games that kids can download via the web on their console through gaming groups)
So...your child (or you) may be thinking they are downloading Black Ops 3, didn't notice the fine print, and actually downloaded the "modified version" which is operated by a terror group. Complete with online access to virtually chat with your child. These modified versions have been altered to resemble real US targets such as Central Park, the White House and more.
So the voice on the other side is literally training the player to attack the US. Since it's connected online, they are watching the skill level and participation of the gamer and that's one way they are building their sleeper cells in the US. They feel by training via a video game, then when they say "go", they will be trained and ready.
Obviously there are emotional and mental factors involved as well. (I'll be getting into those blogs with the help of counselors in the next few weeks. I'm working on that) Most likely, if someone accidentally downloaded the modified version, they would delete it once they realized it. I'm not fond of our innocent children being recruited. Or the ones who may have some interest in the terrorist world and get coaxed in to something they can't get out of.
Let me be perfectly clear, in the research I've done and people I've talked to, sometimes these "mods" are hard to tell the difference from the authentic version. So just because it's been downloaded, doesn't mean it was intentional. Most of these mods are in the deep, dark gaming web that isn't easily accessible unless you know how to get there.
I am hearing that they ARE trying everything they can do to get mainstream however. There are "hints" you can download and extra lives on your games, the terrorists are trying to sneak in to those innocent looking downloads to watch as many gamers as they can. They wait and watch, then try to communicate.
The point of this blog is to make you aware of the dangers here. Even the most well intended child may accidentally download a modified version and open him/herself up to the wrong people.
It's always a fine line for me to talk about things like this. I have this information that I feel is important to be aware of, but on the other hand, I don't want parents to take it to the extreme. I know of specific games and apps that are being used, but I do not want to put it out there and have curious kids download. It's always tricky but just use your best judgement. We all know kids tend to shut down if we get in their business too much, that's exactly what I DON'T want to happen.
So as the Black Friday Sales are in full swing with Video Game Consoles and your kids are lounging this weekend with no school, it wouldn't hurt to start a conversation. Have them show you exactly which games they've downloaded from the web vs. bought from a store on a disc.
I don't want anyone to frantically rip their router out and scream "No more Wi-Fi". That would be no fun, but again, just have the conversation and find out where they get their games, ask how they work, etc. Let them explain the process to you!
It's easy to monitor social media but how many of us sit and monitor our kids playing their video games? There will be more details and blog posts to come on this subject. Stay tuned!
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If it's on my mind, I'll tell you about it!