SAFETY

Utah missing girl’s case highlights new concerns over virtual world apps

Mar 11, 2022, 11:58 AM | Updated: Mar 14, 2022, 1:15 pm
Social media, especially oculus is popping up as the primary social media behind a couple of Utah-t...
SAN JOSE, CA - The Oculus logo is displayed at Facebook's F8 Developer Conference in 2017. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General’s office says the case of a missing 13-year old girl highlights concerns over children using virtual world apps. Police found the girl  Thursday in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in the back of 25-year-old Chris Evan’s semi-truck. 

 

They said the two had met over the Oculus platform. That platform allows users to virtually visit rooms to play games, watch events like sports and even watch movies. It also allows people to strike up conversations with anybody. 

“The potential is always there for parents to be surprised at what their kids are doing online,” said Richard Piatt, Spokesperson for the Utah Attorney General’s Office. 

Changes to virtual world apps increase possible danger

Piatt said in the most recent case, Facebook cooperated in the investigation. He said the virtual world continues to change, that it can be much more anonymous, and feel more real to users. Those issues also increase the potential danger.

Piatt said that underscores the need for parents to keep up.

“The only way that you’re really going to know is to educate yourself about what these apps are, have a conversation with your kids about it and what they’re doing, set some guidelines, and (assure) everyone is on the same page about what’s going on,” Piatt said. 

Piatt said it can be a challenge for parents because often children are more tech-savvy, and can find their way around certain roadblocks. He said would-be predators can do the same and can easily pose as someone they’re not. 

 

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Utah missing girl’s case highlights new concerns over virtual world apps