Authorities warn about kids communicating with strangers through gaming apps

CLEVELAND - Gaming apps are extremely popular with kids, but police warn that those apps are not all fun and games. 

“Any of these apps can and have been used for criminal activity,” said FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson. 

While the gaming apps are a favorite with kids, they’re growing in popularity with child predators.

“I think there is a false sense of security about gaming,” said David Frattare, Commander of Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. 

Recently, a 14-year-old Mississippi boy disappeared, police said, after he made plans to meet someone he met on the Discord app in person. The app allows users to start private chat groups and communicate with each other through text, voice and video.  The boy walked into a fire station in Illinois after seeing reports of his disappearance. 

Frattare explained the Discord app is gaining popularity. “We’ve started to see some cyber tips come in from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children," he said.

Some parents are not aware that children can communicate through gaming apps. Police urge parents to know what your child is doing online and who they are talking with at all times. 

Discord release a statement about the incident:

"We urge parents to teach their children the risks of communicating online and the importance of chatting to only those they know. We will continue to work with our community and law enforcement agencies when appropriate to develop the best practices to ensure our community’s safety."

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