JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville teenager was arrested Friday after police said he threatened to shoot up a daycare center in San Marco. Investigators said he posted the threat on a gaming chatroom using his Xbox.
After police spoke to the teenager’s mother about what her son did, she told police she had no idea her son could use his gaming system to communicate on social media.
To many parents, an Xbox is just a gaming system. But in reality, the Xbox is a computer much like a desktop hard drive.
An Xbox is a gaming system that can be linked to the internet to download games and movies, and even connect to social media. This was evident when Jacksonville police showed up at an apartment inside this Northside complex and arrested a 15-year-old boy.
That’s when the boy’s mother told police she had no idea her son’s gaming console could connect to social media.
News4JAX spoke with cyber security expert Chris Hamer who said this should be a wake-up call for all parents who are not computer savvy.
“Parents need to be aware that these consoles are fully-fledged computers with the capacity of surfing the internet and communicating in both directions,” Hamer said. “That issue is if you leave your child alone with an Xbox or PlayStation, not only can they present a credible threat to the outside world but they can also be groomed by people who deliberately go into the chatroom, game rooms, and the lobbies for these different programs to find their next victim.”
So in addition to monitoring your child’s activity on the home computer or smartphone -- parents are being urged to monitor their kids’ activities on gaming consoles.
Hamer said while parents may not be too computer savvy, kids who are caught posting threats online are also not as computer savvy as they may think.
“The individuals that are making less than intelligent decisions as to their activities online may or may not be aware that their IP addresses can be tracked right to their provider and thus to their house,” Hamer said.
One tip parents should know is that it doesn’t matter if you’re using a home computer, a cell phone, or a gaming system to post threats on social media, as long as you’re connected to the internet, that threat can be traced.