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Sun 7 Aug 2016 11:01 AM

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UAE warns on computer game 'chat' functions

Teenagers could be targeted by groups spreading dangerous ideologies, TRA says

UAE warns on computer game 'chat' functions

Criminal groups could infiltrate ‘chat’ features in computer games and spread damaging ideologies, the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has warned.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the TRA warned parents and young people to be vigilant when using chat forums on computer games and other electronic forums.

It warned that, as teenagers often spend long periods of time alone in their rooms playing computer games, they are particularly susceptible to any dangerous conversation in which they may be encouraged to engage.

Addiction to electronic games, “excessive consumerism” and lack of religious affinity also make teenagers an easy target for such groups, the TRA said.

“Criminal groups propagating radical ideologies may exploit chat features across electronic games, spreading violent ideas and encouraging rebellious actions,” it said.

“By manipulating their emotions and influencing their minds through messages and conversations, young people are susceptible to exploitation and could be led down the wrong path.”

The TRA warned that such criminal or extremist groups were using increasingly sophisticated technology and urged governments to develop ways of reducing risks.

Mohammed Al Zarooni, director of the policy and programs department at the TRA, said: “The groups that adopt such vicious thinking are trying to recruit young people and adolescents through some electronic games, starting with unusual conversations with them in such a way that it reveals their weaknesses so they can be easily exploited and instructed to commit unlawful acts.”

He called on young people tell their parents and relevant authorities if they believe they are being targeted, and asked parents to put gaming equipment in living rooms rather than bedrooms so they can supervise their child.

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