ABILENE, Texas - A Stamford woman says her nine-year-old daughter received several explicit messages through her Playstation 4.
The messages began with innocent exchanges: the stranger inquired about her age and said they were a young 22 year-old woman. However, after the user learned about the Stamford girl's age, they continued to make sexual advances towards her.
Taylor County Sheriff’s Office Investigator John Graham said the gaming world is an easy place for child sex predators to groom their victims. He said they hide behind online characters and pretend to be someone else.
"We want to limit who they are around face to face, in public, at the mall, at the school, we need to be doing that on the internet as well," Graham said.
Supervision is important, Graham said, and he compared monitoring children's devices to making sure they wear seatbelts when they get into the car. He said to also keep the gaming devices in plain sight so you can listen and see who kids are talking to.
Graham said it's best to not confront the game user harassing your child, but to report it to law enforcement instead. The investigators can then track down the predator before they are scared away.
Lastly, education is key. Graham recommended people go onto the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children site to learn about internet safety and what ways people can protect children.
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