Teachers to Use Video Games to Help Kids Learn How to Avoid Internet Traps

Dozens of teachers will spend this morning playing video games tomorrow as part of a state conference on Internet safety.

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has partnered with Web Wise Kids, a non-profit education group and the Entertainment Software Association for a program that uses specially designed games that make it fun for students to learn how to avoid cyberstalkers and other Internet pitfalls. The program kicks off this morning at the AG's office with representatives of ESA, Web Wise Kids and teachers from 50 schools across the state.

The teachers will get some hands-on time with the games while learning about how to teach Internet safety, and they'll take the software back to the classroom. The games include Mirror Image and Air Dogs, which are also available for download.

According to Web Wise Kids, Mirror Image is:

... based on a real-life police case in which eight young women were lured by a predator who claimed to be a modeling agent. In the Mirror Image game, players meet two friends, Sheena and Megan. Both of the girls have created profiles about themselves that they have posted on Instant Messaging. As a result of their profiles, Sheena has been contacted by a modeling agent, Mitch, and Megan has a new online boyfriend, Mike. Everything is great until the girls begin to suspect that someone is stalking them.

Using cyber policing tools such as "online directory research," "pixel analysis," and "IP address searches;" players are challenged to discover the connection between the girls' online activities and the mysterious delivery van that seems to be shadowing them. By the end of the game, players discover that Mitch and Mike are the same man. He was able to stalk the girls after successfully placing a "trojan horse" on Sheena's computer. The "trojan" compromised Sheena's computer's security settings and allowed the predator to electronically eavesdrop on the girls' private conversations.

The only thing that seems to be missing is an RPG and machine gun for Sheena and Megan, so they can annihilate the bastard.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.