Reporter Pretends To Be 13-Year-Old Girl On PlayStation Home, We Know How This Ends

Reporter Pretends To Be 13-Year-Old Girl On PlayStation Home, We Know How This Ends

As part of a story on the ways sexual predators from the United States are using technology like online game consoles to “lure” Canadian kids, CBC’s Gosia Sawicka decided to do a little first-hand reporting and signed up to Sony’s PlayStation Home service — posing as a 13 year-old girl.

What she found was as sad as it was predictable.

I can’t view the video of the story on CBC, but a Huffington Post report says that Sawicka — using the handle Em_giirl13 (subtle) — was “approached by several individuals” within minutes, who “asked her sexually explicit questions, even after learning she was just 13”.

She also “received requests for photos, numerous private messages and invitations to voice chat”.

While it’s safe to assume that most if not all the examples in this case were just people screwing around, there are two problems here. The first is that targeting young people in online games (it’s unfair to single out Home here, since this happens anywhere there are kids and an internet connection) is something sexual predators actually do. This is why people like Det-Sgt Darren Oleksiuk, from the Winnipeg Police Service’s Internet Child Exploitation unit, do what they do.

“They try to be the same age”, Oleksiuk says. “They try to be a friend and try to be like the person and that’s classic grooming on behalf of the offender.”

The second is that, because of this, even if you’re just screwing around (what’s wrong with you?), you can end up in deep trouble if you’re caught.

Video game chat monitoring urged to prevent child luring [CBC] U.S. Predators Use Video Games To Lure Canadian Kids [Huffington Post]

Picture: Image is not from the CBC story. Illustration purposes only.


  • I would think a problem in the report is that in demonstrating how easy it was to pretend to be a 13-year old girl, the reporter is engaging in identical behaviour to the perpetrators, not the victims. As the report says:

    Several individuals indicated they were the same age as Em_giirl13, something Oleksiuk said may be a tactic of a potential predator

    What happens if some of those asking “sexually explicit questions” were actually 13-year old girls? Given that the Det-Sgt also says this often goes unreported, wouldn’t it be more useful (though ethically unacceptable) for the reporter to pose as a predator and see how many kids they can lure? If you’re going to mimic the behaviour of predators, it’d make more sense to pretend to be a perp than a victim, since that’s what the perps do anyway.

    At this stage, you’ve got a twenty-something reporter pretending to be a 13 year old pretending to be a twenty something (via the avatar) to other people who are also pretending to be a twenty something avatar who may or may not also be pretending to be 13 who may or may not be a predator. Not sure that tells us a lot.

    • Yeah… A reporter pretending to be a 13 year old girl pretending to be a predator.
      I see no way that could go wrong.

      • Really? I can see soooo many. Mostly in a sad way. A couple in a darkly hilarious way, though.

        They could make a TV show of it. Chris Hansen could host.

  • That’s actually not how I thought this would end.

    I thought it would end with a 13 year old girl wandering around PS Home calling out “Helloooooooo? Is anybody heeeeeere?” and hearing her plaintive cries echoing back from the vast, empty designer wasteland.

  • I’d haphazard a guess that some of the people she ran into that asked her sexually explicit questions were actually 13 and 14 year old boys, an option that never seems to occure to people when discussing this sort of thing (not that I’m defending it in any case, just pointing it out).

    • Good call.

      I mean, there’s barely ANYONE in Playstation Home, yet they don’t assume there are 14 year old boys in there?

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