Kadner: A father’s warning about Xbox games
Phil Kadner email@example.com | (708) 633-6787 May 30, 2012 8:00PM
Xbox safety tips
How parents can adjust Xbox LIVE family settings to help prevent similar incidents:
Family settings enable parents to choose the right play and viewing settings for their families, so kids only see content appropriate for their age, and to configure their account settings to customize what information is shared and the level of online communication with others.
Features of Xbox LIVE Family Settings include:
Intelligent default settings for children, teens and adults. When Console Safety is turned on, Xbox automatically assigns default privacy and activity settings for each member, based on age. For example, Child profiles — the default settings for kids under 13 — block a variety of online activities, such as profile sharing and text, voice and video chat, and automatically turn on Family Programming. These settings can later be individually customized.
Family Programming. When turned on, Family Programming prevents the display of mature content on the dashboard and highlights family-friendly entertainment.
Completely Customizable. Parents can completely customize the online safety settings for each individual Xbox LIVE profile to:
Decide whether their child can participate in multiplayer gaming, video chat, and voice or text messaging.
Decide whom their kids can communicate with online. Choose who can see their child’s profile or friends list and what information their child can see about others.
Choose to allow or block Video Kinect and/or Kinect Sharing. Parents can also customize Video Kinect to allow their child to chat with “Friends Only.”
Kinect Family Safety and Privacy
Microsoft is extending its Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE controls to Kinect. Video Kinect allows users to video chat over Xbox LIVE with friends and family. For Child profiles, this feature is turned off; however, parents can decide to allow this feature and may customize to “Friends Only” or “Everyone.”
For more information, visit www.GetGameSmart.com or www.getgamesmart.com/tools/setcontrols for tips and tools for parents including step-by-step guides to setting parental controls.
Source: Edelman for Xbox 360
Updated: July 6, 2012 9:11AM
He bought his 12-year-old son an Xbox 360 plus Kinect video game console.
“I thought I was doing a good thing,” the Orland Park father told me.
The Xbox came with a Webcam and what this suburban dad didn’t understand was that it connected to the Internet.
“I monitor everything my son does,” he said. “I have McAfee Family Protection System. I know every site he visits.”
As the father explained it to me, his son was playing a game on the Xbox and after winning a certain number of points a list popped up of other games he could “buy” for his points.
One of the games was called Flirting.
“The thing with this Xbox device is that with the camera you can put your face on an avatar, so it looks like you personally are a gladiator or whatever,” the father said.
“Well, when my son saw the Flirting game he clicked on it and saw this avatar with an image of a sexy, teenage girl.
“The idea is you can play these warrior games. It asks you if you want to play boy vs. girl, boy vs. boy, girl vs. girl, that kind of thing.
“You click on what you want and it puts you in a game.
“Well, someone is chatting with him and asks him (questions about the size of his sex organs).
“And then he asks if he can see it.”
And with the Webcam pointed at him, his son exposed himself.
“That’s when I walked in the room,” the father told me.
“I asked him what he was doing. He told me, and I was just horrified.
“Before you know it, he’s getting requests from 12 other people to be friends and it’s going across the Internet and pedophiles are picking up on this.
“That’s what this is. It’s another tool for pedophiles to get at our kids, and I just want you to warn people about it.”
The man told me he contacted Orland Park police. I called to ask if this sort of thing was rampant or somewhat unique.
“We haven’t had many cases like this,” Orland Park police Cmdr. John Keating said.
“When you’re on an Xbox, you’re online. If a camera is fixed to the computer or mounted on top of it, you’re streaming video of yourself.
“And when you’re connected to someone in a game, you’re kind of like friending them.
“That other person can send out this young man’s image to other people.
“Parents often don’t understand how these video games work. But they work using the Internet.”
Keating said Orland Park police are investigating the person who was online with the 12-year-old but it’s not a simple process to track them down.
“You have to find the IP address of the computer. Then you have to find the home address of the IP address,” he said.
“Then you have to find out how many people in the house have access to the computer with that IP address.
“So it is time-consuming.”
Keating said Orland Park police have visited with local eighth-grade classes to explain to students that whether they’re using a handheld device or home computer, if they send out an image of themselves to a friend it can be sent throughout the world.
“If a 15-year-old girl takes a picture of herself naked and sends it to her boyfriend, she technically has violated the law by engaging in child pornography, even if she was the one who took the picture,” he said.
“And if her boyfriend sends it to friends, he is guilty of child pornography because she’s a minor.
“Children often don’t understand that when they send an image to a friend it could be launched over the Web and everyone can get access to it.
“And parents often can’t keep up with all these electronic devices and how they work.”
Keating said children often get on video games and think they’re playing with another teenager, when that person could be 25, 35 or 45 years old.
The father who called me was not only angry at the person who contacted his son but himself.
“My son was really harmed by this,” he said. “Not physically. But emotionally. He’s in therapy.
“But I feel awful that I was the cause of this by buying him the game. I was just trying to do something good for him.
“I don’t want other families out there to go through what we’re going through now.
“I just want to warn people because parents, I think, have no idea how these video games work.
“I thought I was being a really good parent. I monitored everything my son did on his computer. I watched him like a hawk.
“But I wasn’t prepared for this.”
I tried to tell the fellow that there’s no way an average parent can keep up with today’s technology.
“I feel awful,” the man said. “Just awful.”