Navigating the Digital World

Written by

Sarah Wakeling

Published on

July 14, 2023

Categories

Categories

Time to read: 3 minutes

Hook Research are trusted by a range of digital first brands to help them understand how young audiences use their products.

Our work covers online entertainment in the form of gaming, assessing both the positives and negatives experienced by young audiences.

On the plus side, gaming has become a popular and immersive form of entertainment for teenagers offers numerous benefits such as skill development, social interaction, and stress relief, it also delivers a range of immersive worlds that digital natives feel comfortable expressing themselves in.

On the other hand, there are potential dangers that can arise in the online gaming environment. A recent report from The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program highlighted how online predators are using gaming platforms to target and groom young players.

This survey listed a range of potential dangers teen gamers should be aware of:

  • 1. Grooming: Predators may try to gain the trust of teens by pretending to be friendly and understanding, gradually manipulating the teen into sharing personal information or engaging in inappropriate conversations.

“however technologically literate young audiences are, they can often still be emotionally vulnerable.”

  • 2. Impersonation: Predators might create fake profiles or impersonate someone else to deceive teens. They may pretend to be a fellow gamer or someone of a similar age to gain trust and exploit vulnerabilities.
  • 3. Phishing and scams: Predators may use deceptive tactics, such as sending fraudulent messages or links, to trick teens into sharing sensitive information, like passwords or credit card details. This can lead to identity theft or monetary loss.
  • 4.Exploiting vulnerabilities: Predators may exploit a teen’s emotional vulnerabilities, such as loneliness, low self-esteem, or insecurities, to manipulate and control them. They may offer false promises, compliments, or emotional support as a means of gaining influence.

What is particularly interesting about this is that however technologically literate young audiences are, they can often still be emotionally vulnerable – and content creators, and we as researchers must be aware of that when making recommendations about a brand, product or service.

Increasingly organisations are trying to help young audiences make sense of the world around, and give them the intellectual apparatus to game online safely.

The Breck Foundation is one such organisation – it aims to raise awareness about online safety and provide education and support to young people, parents, and professionals. The foundation was established in 2014 in memory of Breck Bednar, a 14-year-old boy who tragically lost his life due to an online predator.

The foundation’s primary mission is to empower young people with the knowledge and skills to stay safe online through:

  1. use informative and interactive presentations in schools, colleges, and community to  encourage open discussions and equip young people with strategies to protect themselves and make responsible choices online.
  2. working with parents and professionals, providing guidance on how to promote online safety and digital well-being.
  3.  collaborating with law enforcement agencies, schools, and other organisations to raise awareness about online safety and promote effective strategies to combat online threats.

Through their work, the Breck Foundation strives to help young people navigate the online world safely. and empowers them to make informed decisions, fostering a safer digital environment for everyone.

To learn more about the Breck Foundation and access their resources, you can visit their official website at breckfoundation.org.

It is important to note that while dangers exist, many online gaming experiences are positive. However, being aware of these risks and taking proactive measures to promote online safety and responsible gaming habits can help teenagers navigate the gaming world more securely.

At Hook, we are always trying to stay abreast of how teens use digital media, and potential threats they might face. Below are some additional reputable resources that provide information and guidance on online gaming safety for teenagers:

  1. Common Sense Media (www.commonsensemedia.org)
  2. National Online Safety (nationalonlinesafety.com):
  3. Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) (www.esrb.org)
  4. Connect Safely (www.connectsafely.org)
  5. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (www.consumer.ftc.gov)

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