It's All in the Game - an Exploration of Extensive Communication on Gaming Platforms and the Risks of Online Sexual Grooming

36 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2024

See all articles by Catharina Drejer

Catharina Drejer

Oslo Metropolitan University

Saeed Shafiee Sabet

Simula Metropolitan CDE

Gunn Astrid Baugerud

Oslo Metropolitan University

Michael A. Riegler

Simula Metropolitan CDE

Abstract

Sexual solicitation and sexual grooming of children and adolescents happens on gaming platforms. Previous research has focussed on in-game chat functions when examining this issue. This study examines and outlines extensive communication features and capabilities within gaming platforms that can increase the risk for online sexual grooming of children and adolescents. It assessed the protective measures such as parental controls and other tools aimed at identifying, categorising, and mitigating risks for children in online gaming environments. Ten popular games were analysed according to four game related risk categories: Verbal-Interactive Risks, Environmental-Visual Risks, Behavioral-Economic Risks, and Cybersecurity Risks. This study finds a range of concerning dynamics. Potential victims can be identified and accessed within gaming platforms. Offenders can employ various verbal and non-verbal strategies to establish contact, deceive and isolate victims. Isolation can happen through private spaces, chats, servers or concealed in-game locations. For deceiving purposes offenders may manipulate avatars to build trust and employ in-game gifts to manipulate or coerce victims. Furthermore, victims can become desensitized to sexual content within the gaming environment, encountering explicit online spaces, material or receive and share files and external links. While parental controls often are suggested to mitigate online risks, this analysis exposes potential shortcomings in their effectiveness. Developing structured training and educational programs where both child and parents learn to understand the gaming world is essential. The focus should extend beyond online risks to include the promotion of resilience within the online gaming environment.

Keywords: Online Sexual Grooming, Online Gaming, Gaming Platforms, Video Games, Computer Games, Internet, Child Protection.

Suggested Citation

Drejer, Catharina and Sabet, Saeed Shafiee and Baugerud, Gunn Astrid and Riegler, Michael A., It's All in the Game - an Exploration of Extensive Communication on Gaming Platforms and the Risks of Online Sexual Grooming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4671140 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4671140

Catharina Drejer (Contact Author)

Oslo Metropolitan University ( email )

Saeed Shafiee Sabet

Simula Metropolitan CDE ( email )

Gunn Astrid Baugerud

Oslo Metropolitan University ( email )

Holbergs gate 1
Oslo, 0166
Norway

Michael A. Riegler

Simula Metropolitan CDE ( email )

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Downloads
136
Abstract Views
283
Rank
385,011
PlumX Metrics