Behind the screen A look at gaming addiction and luring

A special series airing on CBC News from April 1-4

Profile of a Canadian gamer

Source: Entertainment Software Association of Canada

Platforms played on

Recommended screen-time for kids and teens

  • Age 0-2No screen time
  • Age 3-51 hour of T.V.
  • Age 5-121 hour T.V.
    30 min of gaming
  • Middle schoolIncrease by 1 hour
  • HighschoolIncrease by another 1 hour

Video

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Common symptoms of video game addiction

  • Feeling a high or sense of relief while playing video games.
  • Significant decrease in work performance, school achievement and / or interpersonal relationships.
  • Spending most of one's free time playing video games.
  • Frequently playing video games for six to eight hours non-stop.
  • Spending less time with family and friends; loss of interest in social activities and previously enjoyed activities.
  • Avoidance of personal responsibilities or commitments so that gaming can continue.
  • Feeling depressed or anxious when not playing the game.
  • Sleep difficulties or significant changes in sleep patterns.
  • Sore fingers, neck or back, or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Source: techaddiction.ca

Evolution of video gaming

Photo credits: Evan Amos

Pathway to child luring: How does gaming escalate to exploitation?

Meet while playing an online game

Individual seems friendly and nice. Individual may ask to be added to a friend list or offer to purchase an in-game gift for the victim.

Give out cellphone number or social media username

Individual develops a relationship through text messages or chatting on social media platforms and gains the trust of the victim. Grooming, which is when a pedophile slowly introduces victims to sexual concepts, may take place.

Individual requests a photo

The photo could be as innocent as a portrait, school photo or photo with friends.

Individual requests revealing photos

Gradually the individual requests more and more revealing photos, which escalate in terms of sexual content.

Victim threatened

Once revealing photos are sent the individual may threaten to post the photos if the victim doesn't meet them in person or agree to other demands. At this point the victim may feel too embarrassed to approach an adult for help.

Safety Tips

Law enforcement and child advocacy organizations agree parents need to be part of their child's online lives. They encourage playing games with children and being aware of who their online friends are. Some experts discourage kids from having online friends and playing games with persons they do not also know in real life.

It is not always possible for parents to know what their children do online. Cybertip.ca says many kids hide parts of their online lives from their parents by having second accounts on social media sites and secret email accounts. Also, many consoles do not save chat records. This is especially true of in-game conversations that happen over headsets. For these reasons, child advocacy organizations say talking to your children openly about online predators and encouraging them to come forward at the first sign of luring is essential.

If parents or kids believe they have been approached inappropriately online they can contact cybertip.ca at (866) 658-9022 to ask questions or make a confidential report.