It is enough to type “free online games” in any search engine to find an almost inexhaustible offer of sites dedicated to all kinds of video games, so millions of boys and girls live on different platforms every day.
The online game is a translation of what the millennial generation knew as video games. Boys and girls of the current generation, born after 2010, for whom the term ALPHA was coined, inhabit various gaming platforms daily, in real time, depending on the dynamics, they do it alone or in groups in multiplayer mode.
Currently, the most widely used modalities are role-playing games, hinting at PC RPGs, while MMORPGs are massively multiplayer online role-playing games, a genre that is almost always free to play, but where there are also payment options, with which developers monetize them.
As a result of the pandemic, a boom in the number of “gamers” was caused, which also led to premature access of girls and boys to various gaming platforms, which today is a reality in which on average childhood is immersed from the age of seven, such as Roblox (platform online video games where users can create their own virtual worlds).
fun vs. menace?
Since 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) has included “gaming disorder” (video game addiction) as a new type of pathology similar to compulsive gambling addiction, to some extent this explains the massiveness in the daily connection frequency of children, thus significantly increasing the state of vulnerability they are exposed to when many boys and girls cannot distinguish reality from fantasy.
In our country, according to the latest nationwide survey that we conducted from Grooming Argentina based on more than 5500 testimonials, it turned out that 7 out of 10 boys and girls aged 9 to 12 play online games. It can be noted that the main users are children and adolescents aged 9 to 15 years.
Alarming data shows that 62% of children and teens who use online games have interacted with strangers either through the same online games or later through social media.
We find on online gaming platforms a noticeable and sustained predominance in the actions of sex offenders who, under psychological pressure and various manipulation mechanisms, use strategies of violence, building trusting relationships with victims through virtual friendship offers, exchange of coins, credits, skills and other dynamics of each game.
One of the most commonly used mechanisms that we as a family should consider when approaching dialogue is the engagement request, where according to our latest report, 1 in 3 children and teens received this style of proposal from strangers through digital media, mostly on platforms Roblox and Among Us, the question is: do you want to be my girlfriend?
It becomes vital that we, as responsible adults, reflect on the false perception of safety that we find ourselves immersed in regarding accompanying children and teenagers in their recreational activities, because when we see or listen to our children having fun in their rooms, we give we feel the absence of a hidden threat, when in fact we are faced with an intangible enemy with the ability to penetrate this room invisibly.
Lawyer and founder of Grooming Argentina.