Teenagers spend a great deal of time interacting on social media or playing online games. This is normal for Colorado kids these days, but it might give you cause for concern about your children becoming addicted to the screen or falling prey to internet predators. As a conscientious parent, you may address these issues by limiting your kids' screen time and talking to them about online activity that is appropriate and what is not allowed. You should also know about a common prank that occurs often in the online gaming world, which can result in serious criminal charges even for minors.
This prank, called swatting, is so named because those who initiate the prank do so with the intent of drawing armed SWAT teams or law enforcement to an innocent person's address. Swatting has been in the news numerous times lately, but the prank is hardly new. Over the years, people have played various versions of this prank by calling in fake bomb threats to schools and government buildings or by targeting political figures, celebrities or people they have had personal disputes with.
Swatting can be fatal
Many people see swatting as a way to get back at someone with whom they had a dispute. You may have heard about an incident last December, in which a man from Kansas was killed after a swatting prank gone wrong. Reportedly, a Los Angeles man made a false call to authorities posing as the innocent man, saying he was holding family members hostage at gunpoint after having killed his father. Armed officers arrived and fatally shot the man when they thought he was reaching for a weapon. The tragic irony is that the victim was not playing the online game that reportedly sparked an argument, and authorities were unsure why the caller targeted him. The caller is facing felony charges.
Tell your kids why it's wrong to make a false police report
Your teen may feel pressured into playing a prank like this without realizing the many things that could go wrong, in addition to the fact that making a false police report is illegal. Holding frequent conversations with your children about their activities and relationships with friends may prevent serious consequences.