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Cyberbullying in online games: What parents need to know

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2023 | Criminal Defense, Harassment |

Children can develop their planning, problem-solving and socialization skills through video games. Unfortunately, cyberbullying is rampant on online gaming platforms, and there is only so much parents can do to monitor their child’s online behavior. While it’s common for players to engage in trash talk, some take it to the next level by targeting and harassing another player.

Toxic gaming culture

Approximately 50% of gamers worldwide have engaged in or experienced cyberbullying. Gaming is a very competitive environment and most often requires teamwork. Players can quickly lose their cool when a teammate is slacking or when the opposing team is arrogant.

Players often insult each other in in-game calls and chats. For some gamers, a bit of trash talk is not a big deal. But when trash talking goes too far and starts to cause harm by intimidating or threatening another person, it crosses the line into cyberbullying.

The fact that bullies may harass other gamers while remaining anonymous online makes them even more vicious. Even more disturbing is the fact that very few victims of bullying and harassment ever come forward.

Approaching your child about bullying

If your child is a gamer, show some interest and try to learn how the game works. This will give you an idea of the environment they are exposed to. It may also be a good idea to keep tabs on who your child is playing and chatting with on these gaming platforms.

However, you do not want to invade your child’s privacy. That would only encourage your child to keep secrets. Educating children on the importance of practicing safe online habits like not clicking on suspicious links or giving personal information or photos to strangers can be helpful.

What if your child is a cyberbully?

Cyberbullying is illegal in Colorado and carries misdemeanor charges. Intentionally harassing or threatening another individual on any platform, including in-game chats and calls, falls under cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying prosecutions involving middle and high school children are usually handled in juvenile court. Unless the minor’s crime is very significant, the court is unlikely to sentence them to jail time but instead to community service or probation.

However, do not take a cyberbullying accusation lightly. Juvenile records may remain on your child’s record until adulthood, potentially hurting their future college and job applications.

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