So, after our cable box finished receiving a firmware update, I went surfing to see what was on and found a Dr Phil show about Cyber Bullies. I have a few things to say.
The coverage of the Megan myspace case from Missouri I don’t really have much to add to.
For the coverage of the “bad joke” I think they left one thing out that I’d have liked to know.. was the joke posted as the person (personal e-mail) or using their work account.. that would be a valid point they left out.
The rest of this post was inspired by the gamer in the show, but not a direct “response”. The situation was that an online gamer was getting upset by the threats against him and his family by other players. He was also unable to get the manufacturer and host of the online game to handle the complaints. Sadly, nobody has made a good reference that has been adopted worldwide about online scenarios and how to react to situations like these and how to protect yourself online that have made it to the mainstream. I’m sure a few references exist.. and if you know of one, feel free to post it in the comments here for others to know about.
To protect your anonymous identity online and be “safe” while playing X-box or other games, one of the important things to remember is to not give people identifying information. Don’t use a name that you use for AIM and every other service if you don’t want people tracking you. Don’t post any personal information or give out anything you don’t need to, especially to other players. This little bit of protection in itself make the other players’ threats empty ones. If someone doesn’t know who you are, their threats are nothing more than words.
The online gamer also was concerned about letting his kids online.. both in case the people who made threats against him and the people who will be talking to his children. Firstly, if precautions are made with some basic limiting of information, using different names, etc as listed above, nobody will know who the dad is, so we can assume that threat is limited. The issues with children online range from harassment, introduction to sexually explicit situations and other adult content exposure to stalking. A few precautions will solve most of these problems:
- Don’t let kids play adult games (or any really) without supervision
- Explain to your kids that similar to real life, you CAN (and should) ignore people who harass you. Don’t engage them and if it gets to be too much.. TURN IT OFF
- Don’t (you or your kids) give out personal information
- Don’t join location-based chat (ie: #sandiego-kids on IRC would be a bad choice)
One other very important thing about being online is to realize how fast friendships can be created and dissolve. Giving out your home phone number to someone you’ve known for 2 hours wouldn’t make much sense in real life.. and likewise you shouldn’t do it online either. Rather than retyping a previous post, I’d recommend a read of this.