The Dark Side of Video Games

The Dark Side of Video Games - Parenting Like HannahThis is not another post telling you your child’s brain is turning into mush because he plays too many video games. It may very well be, but recently I was offered the chance to review a book which taught me something new about online gaming and social media. I may have suspected it on some level, but to confront the harsh reality was unsettling.

SEDUCED: THE GROOMING OF AMERICA’S TEENAGERS by Opal Singleton helps parents and those working with young people learn about a world I dare say most of us have never visited. Singleton is the coordinator for the Riverside County, California Anti Human Trafficking Task Force. What she shares in her book is the result of research and her own involvement with the families and individuals who are and were involved in this world.

The book does a great job of going into the details of how the seemingly innocent game playing of your children can quickly suck them into a world of perversion, ungodliness and crime. It can even endanger their futures and their very lives.

I can’t go into all of the details, but I do want you to understand your child is as vulnerable as the next. It is far too easy to say “This would never happen to my child”. As Singleton gives example after example though, it becomes clear every child is vulnerable – even yours.

Singleton gives numerous scenarios and explains them thoroughly. For those who still doubt it would happen to their child, I will give my version of one of her examples. It is now burned into my brain and my heart aches for these children.

A child begins playing an online game and quickly becomes hooked (she does tackle this topic briefly, too). Suddenly, he is out of “lives”. The only way to keep playing is to purchase more lives. The child has no money (no debit/credit cards), but learns he can continue playing with help from other members of his team (guild). Another player is more than willing to help, but asks for a photo in return. The photo requested may immediately be one where the child is partially clad or nude or it can escalate to asking for a nude. Suddenly, the once nice fellow gamer becomes a black-mailer. Send more photos or he will tell your parents/share your photo with your friends or whatever. The demands can be for more nudes or to meet somewhere. The child is sometimes grabbed at these meetings and forced into child trafficking. The photos end up on porn sites on the internet. The child may suddenly receive all sorts of horrid messages from those who have seen the photos. And on and on. I almost became nauseous just thinking about it.

And that’s just one of the many scenarios Singleton shares. She has realized, these predators have learned how to use gaming and social media to find every vulnerability your child has and use it to groom him or her for their ungodly and deadly purposes. She shares how they do it and the steps you can take to keep it from happening to your child.

One interesting tidbit about which children are most likely to become ensnared by these people. Of course the usual vulnerable children – foster children, orphans, children in bad environments. What was interesting though, matches what I have seen in other areas. Vulnerable children are also in “good” homes with divorced parents, parents who work long hours, parents who aren’t involved in meaningful ways with their children, parents who don’t listen to their children, etc. Vulnerable children are those with self-esteem issues, are having problems with their friends, can’t find a date or just are passionate about online gaming.

I would urge every parent to read this book. It will scare you, but it should. Child trafficking involves millions of children around the world and is growing rapidly. You may not be able to save every child, but you can save yours. Those involved in trying to save children once they are in that world will tell you it is one of the most difficult “saves” of any type of child who is endangered. Please don’t let that be your child or the children of the people you know. Get informed and then share that information. You may literally save lives in the process.



I was given a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

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Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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