A popular online game has become the latest playground for predators – and parents have no idea what their children are being exposed to.
Innocent kids are being sent child abuse videos and sexual messages on a new online game that has taken the world by storm.
Among Us was only released two years ago but has quickly garnered millions of users – with fears that online predators are now using the platform to target unsuspecting youngsters.
And parents have been left horrified after realising the game’s chat function is being used by sickos to send explicit messages, The Sun reports.
Mum Julie Gower revealed her 14-year-old daughter had been playing the game with friends when a new player joined their game.
But after chatting normally for a few minutes, the player sent a sick video on the chat showing child sexual abuse.
Julie told The Sun Online: “The individual then started asking the girls what they thought of it.
“They immediately blocked him and my daughter came and told me.
“They did report him through the game and we made a police report. Nothing could be done from a police perspective. He was kicked from the game but I understand they can just create another profile and carry on.”
But Julie’s experience is not uncommon, with warnings being shared widely online.
One player shared a warning online, writing: “Trigger warning, I was playing Among Us and these people were saying they want to rape my dead body. What the hell.”
The player, who uses a purple avatar, included screenshots of messages they had been sent that read: “U want p***y” and “I kill purple and get her dead p***y”.
Other messages revealed by horrified users include disturbing notes reading “I want to rip all of your organs out” and “wanna be my boy”.
The aim of the multiplayer online game, launched by tech company InnerSloth, is for groups of up to ten to work together to find out who the “impostor” working to ruin their quest is as they travel into space.
And the game, which was released in 2018, has seen a sharp rise in popularity.
In September last year alone, there were 41.9 million downloads – up from 18.4 million in August.
But this quick rise in downloads has seen parents caught off guard, unaware that their kids could be chatting to complete strangers on the internet.
One mum in America shared a warning online, saying: “Someone very close to me was tricked into giving their phone number to a registered child predator on this game.
“This child thought they were having a week’s worth of innocent conversations but this disgusting individual began prying personal information from this child until their parent checked their phone (like all parents should) and intervened with this disgusting human!” she wrote.
“No matter how ‘smart’ you think your kids are – talk to them about this!”
Another mum warned the creeps were “dime a dozen” on the game.
Sharing messages that showed one user asking “wanna be my boy”, she warned: “If you think it’s rare for them to become prey, you’re sadly mistaken.”
Yet another warning has gone viral, with the worried mum saying: “When I saw it as a parent, it seemed very normal and safe. It is a game where little things follow other targets. They look cute like minions in a way. Doesn’t look aggressive or anything. The app doesn’t come across as a texting app, but it is.
“When the kids beat another player, a chat window opens up. At that point the other player starts texting your kid and invites them to discord which is a texting app. Once on that app, they gain your kids’ interest by talking about strategies within the game and they start the grooming process.
“My daughter told my other daughter ‘that’s weird, it could be a paedophile’.
“I went to the police about it. The police informed me that they have had many issues with this app. That is the perfect scenario for paedophiles because they go to the game to fish for targets. They then gain their trust privately.
“The police said that I was very lucky that we caught it on time. They explained that most parents find out when it is too late.”
Andy Burrows, NSPCC Head of Child Safety Online Policy said: “Games with chat functions like Among Us carry grooming risks because abusers can use them to make contact with kids and exploit their interest in the game.
“That is why tech firms have a responsibility to properly moderate inappropriate content and the Government must push ahead with a Duty of Care to ensure children’s safety is a legal requirement.
“We advise parents to check out our review of the game on Net Aware where our experts have explained the risks to kids and provide advice on how to stay safe.”
A spokesman from InnerSloth said: “Among Us, which is rated for ages 10 and older, was built with safeguards. Being completely text based for chat, it also does not allow players to post phone numbers, images, videos, and links.
“There are filters already in place that try to eliminate any harmful or derogatory language. We prioritise a safe and enjoyable environment for our players. In the coming weeks, we are releasing additional safeguards into the game, including accounts for higher moderation and reporting abilities. We know we must continue to ensure safety and privacy, and we are committed to doing so – we continually release developer logs on our blog page for full transparency. We take all forms of verbal and physical harassment, discrimination, and illegal behaviour seriously.
“There is no place for that type of behaviour in our game. As with all forms of media and entertainment involving the internet, we recommend being alert and aware of standard online safety practices. We ask that parents and users report to us when they encounter such behaviour in our game.”
This article originally appeared on The Sun and is republished with permission.