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