Reporter Pretends To Be 13 Year-Old Girl On PlayStation Home. You Can Bet How This Ends.

Illustration for article titled Reporter Pretends To Be 13 Year-Old Girl On PlayStation Home. You Can Bet How This Ends.

As part of a story on the ways sexual predators from the United States are using technology like online game consoles to "lure" Canadian kids, CBC's Gosia Sawicka decided to do a little first-hand reporting and signed up to Sony's PlayStation Home service. Posing as a 13 year-old girl.


What she found was as sad as it was predictable.

I can't view the video of the story on CBC, but a Huffington Post report says that Sawicka - using the handle Em_giirl13 (subtle) - was "approached by several individuals" within minutes, who "asked her sexually explicit questions, even after learning she was just 13".


Note: the image above is not from the CBC story.

She also "received requests for photos, numerous private messages and invitations to voice chat".

While it's safe to assume that most, if not all the examples in this case were just people screwing around, there are two problems here. The first is that targeting young people in online games (it's unfair to single out Home here, since this happens anywhere there are kids and an internet connection) is something sexual predators actually do. Which is why people like Det.-Sgt. Darren Oleksiuk, from the Winnipeg Police Service’s Internet Child Exploitation unit, do what they do.

“They try to be the same age", Oleksiuk says. "They try to be a friend and try to be like the person and that's classic grooming on behalf of the offender."


The second is that, because of this, even if you're just screwing around (what's wrong with you?), you can end up in deep trouble if you're caught.

Video game chat monitoring urged to prevent child luring [CBC]

U.S. Predators Use Video Games To Lure Canadian Kids [Huffington Post]

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Sex offenders also exist in Canada. It is likely Canadian sex predators lure kids too. That Huffington Post article screams of sensationalism. When Sawicka went online nothing illegal was found. Some thirteen year old kids are being asked some sexual questions, why does that matter? Sex should be an open topic. That article also describes people that want game companies to regulate online services for improved child safety. I feel like this is from people who don't understand that games are also for adults now. It goes on to suggest government regulation of online gaming. The article also says that 5,500 New York State sex offenders have been banned from online games. Did they actually lure kids with an online game account or are they being banned simply because online games are an easy place to repeat past crimes? Are we going to ban them from the internet and parks too? All of this is overblown.