Online video games may expose kids to violent language, experts warn


Matthew Kinney loves to play online video games with his sons. What he doesn't love? What his kids are hearing from the other players. Kinney calls it "language that would make a sailor blush."

That's not surprising, says Kevin Roberts, author of the book "Cyber Junkie," considering the average gamer is 37 years old.

Roberts says when your child takes the game online and players start interacting, all content ratings go out the window.

"Incredible levels of profanity, racial epithets, homosexually-oriented epithets. We're talking 8-, 9-, 10-, 11-year-old kids who are getting exposed to this regularly," said Roberts.

Internet safety expert Parry Aftab says this inappropriate language in online gaming is rampant, and she's concerned it's leading to dangerous cyber bullying.

"They may trash talk. They may be calling you names. They may steal their passwords. Or a lot of them may gang up on one online, not because it's a good strategic win, but to hurt the other person," said Aftab.

Game companies attempt to combat these issues with on-box warnings, parental controls and special task squads.

"They have an Xbox LIVE enforcement squad that is one of the best enforcement groups looking for grooming activities and online sexual predators, as well as cyber bullying," said Aftab.

But parental involvement is still key. Ask your child to unplug the headphones and turn up the speakers so you can hear exactly what's being said.

"Don't let your kid go upstairs and close his bedroom door, and sit there and play all night," said Kinney. "That's crazy. You have no idea what's going on, who's saying what."

Proactive parenting will allow kids to enjoy the games while still staying safe.

Microsoft says protecting its customers has always been a top priority and it has invested significant resources to monitor violations. The company says every complaint is investigated and it will involve law enforcement if necessary.

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