What Is Online Roleplaying?
“I’m going to go RP with my friends”
“I’m bored… let’s RP”
Roleplaying is an activity in which people assume the role of a character in a fictional setting and interact to create a story. This type of role-playing is typically done by fans of books/movies/web-series such as Homestuck, Pokemon and countless others. Popular apps like Instagram and Tumblr are the most used venue for roleplaying. Many of these groups sometimes take off into smaller groups and start meeting on apps like Skype and Kik.
Behind The Scenes
Kids and teens simply start their story from an image of their choice and write a scenario or storyline in the description using hashtags like #rp, #roleplay or #openrp.
For most involved, role-playing is a simple way to enjoy a common interest. However, if you spend any time on Instagram or Tumblr reading through the role-plays you will quickly see that the storylines more often than not include inappropriate words, graphics or plots including violence and/or graphic sex. Sadly, if your kids or teens are participating they probably are already interacting with strangers online.
Why should parents take roleplaying seriously? It is nearly impossible to tell online if a child is role-playing with another peer or if in fact the other role-player is a child predator acting as a peer to earn your child’s trust. Often it starts as an innocent role-play and grows inappropriate through time using the child as a springboard to ask for additional contact with them or personal images. Through my role as an internet safety advocate, I have heard parents discuss countless stories of kids and teens who have built a close, trusting online relationship with the stranger that they are role-playing with.
Close enough that they will go so far as to give out personal information and/or contact the stranger on other venues such as Kik, Snapchat or by texting. The consequences of this can be extremely dangerous. Using a service like Netsanity to block apps on smartphones can help prevent these dangers.
What can you do to protect your child?
Make sure your child’s social network accounts are private, so photos can’t be copied or shared inappropriately.
Make sure your child is friends online with only people that you both know and trust.
Talk to your child about what types of things are appropriate to share online.
Use mobile parental controls like Netsanity and have an open discussion about the dangers of interacting with strangers online. They have a free trial so check them out if you are using Apple iOS or Android devices.
We understand that kids, and teens especially, need stimulation and acceptance. In today’s online world, its harder to separate the real and virtual worlds. With a bit of knowledge and foresight, parents can keep their kids safe and know what to look for.
Netsanity was made by parents for parents. With easy to use software designed to give control and sanity back to parents, Netsanity enables a safer and healthier mobile experience for kids. See for yourself with a free trial!
Netsanity is available for both Apple and Android devices.