As a parent or grandparent, you know that keeping children safe is priority number one. Long gone are the days where we only needed to worry about them when they are out of the house hanging with friends.
Now, we also have to keep track of their digital lives. Some of the trolls and predators online are scarier than what they could run into in person.
You won't believe what's happening now! Neo-Nazis are using popular online games to recruit our kids.
Do your children play any of these games?
One of the most popular games in recent memory is called Fortnite. Released in 2017, Fortnite quickly became one of the most widely played video games around, currently boasting around 45 million players globally. It’s available to play on multiple platforms like the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Windows, Mac OS and iOS.
Now, a former "white supremacist leader" is warning parents that groups like his are taking advantage of online games like Fortnite to recruit children. Christian Picciolini recently took to Reddit to explain how neo-Nazi groups are using these tactics to recruit kids.
Picciolini said, "We sought marginalized youth and promised them 'paradise.' Today they are using nefarious tactics like going to depression and mental health forums and in multiplayer gaming to recruit those same people. They drop benign hints and then ramp up when hooked."
Parents should warn their kids that recruitment begins slowly, with seemingly benign tactics such as racially inappropriate jokes or comments. The rhetoric becomes more aggressive the more a gamer engages with a "recruiter," Picciolini said. Kids should be told that if they see comments like that, they should go talk to a parent or guardian.
Fortnite isn't the only popular game being taken advantage of this way. He said Minecraft and Call Of Duty (COD) are also being used, mostly by foreign recruiters from Russia and eastern Europe and Poland.
Online safety ideas
If news of this online recruiting process scares you, here are some tips to help keep kids safe.
Have an open dialogue - Make sure you talk to your kids about online safety. Let them know the risks that come with being online and that they can speak with you anytime a problem arises. Also, look for signs of depression or if they are being bullied online and take action when those signs are there.
Set parental controls - Take advantage of the parental control settings on your child's gadgets. These will help keep them from accessing inappropriate online content.
Install security software - You can prevent certain online risks with security software. This will help stop malicious apps and programs from being downloaded and installed on your kids' devices. Cybercriminals target kids with malicious programs knowing they are more likely to trust and click on links and attachments.
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