After a sexual predator bypassed some parents' precautions to make Xbox Live safe for their child, Microsoft wants you to know all the available options you have.
Earlier this week, it was reported that a 22-year-old man had sexually victimized a 10-year-old boy through the use of Xbox Live. In case you missed the story, here's the short version: Timothy Hammerstone of Polk City, Florida, managed to convince a kid he was playing with to send him nude photos in exchange for Xbox Live credits. The police proceeded to bust him and (hopefully) he won't get out of jail for a long, long time.
Microsoft clearly wasn't thrilled with the news that someone managed to manipulate the system in order to commit such a heinous crime. While the parents of the boy in question apparently tried to safeguard their kid's online activities - since Hammerstone created a new Live account to circumvent the parents' watchful eye - the story could easily be twisted to make it look like Xbox Live is totally unsafe for children.
This, of course, is not the case. If you're a parent and want to make sure that your child isn't at risk for a situation like this, there are a number of controls that you should be aware of. A representative from Microsoft's Xbox PR team contacted The Escapist to offer some tips about how adults can keep their kids safe when they're using Live:
The Live settings do allow parents or guardians to block Xbox Live membership creation, which prevents users from signing up for a new Live account or recovering accounts on a console unless they have the "secret passcode" (parents own the master account with the passcode). Additionally, the technology allows parents to:
I thought your readers might benefit from this additional information so they can be empowered to take the necessary steps to create a safer gaming environment for their children. Parents can also find more information about Xbox 360 Family Settings on www.GetGameSmart.com.
- Block the visibility of a child account to online users (the child's gamertag cannot be seen by others).
- Manage and approve a child's online "Friends List" (Friend requests come to the parent for approval).
- Restrict or Block the use of the "Xbox LIVE Vision Cam" and the type of communications your child can engage in (like voice or video chat).
- Block online access entirely.
- Block specific online users.
- Block videogames and movies based on ESRB and MPAA rating systems.
It's good to see that Microsoft isn't just sitting on its haunches in the aftermath of this event and is working to make sure kids stay safe while they game online. Hopefully these tips will help prevent another situation like this from happening.