Police Worried of Predatory Dangers of Nintendo DSi

We’ve seen the panic from news journalists across the country, looking for a big red button to hit that would draw peoples’ attention when they attacked the Nintendo DS, stating that it could be used by predators in order to endanger your child. This, from a unit with limited online functionality and whose chat radius is limited to those about 30 or so feet away.

And we just rolled our eyes, called them scaremongers, and went on about our daily lives.

Now, they’re at it again, only this time their target isn’t simply the DS, but Nintendo’s new DSi, scheduled to be in stores on April 5th. And in Fort Smith, Arkansas, police are issuing warnings about the handheld to parents.

Only this time, before we roll our eyes, there may be a valid point behind their concern.

The online and communications capabilities of the Nintendo DS and DS Lite are limited, at best, and the unit doesn’t have internet access. That is, unless you go out and drop around thirty or so dollars for the now discontinued Opera browser that many weren’t impressed by to begin with.

On the other hand, the DSi can not only browse the web, but also contains those two handy cameras, and together, that is what’s causing the stir. Fort Smith police say that having such easy access to the web might increase the risk of a child for predators.

“Now not only can the children be contacted, but they can be asked to provide pictures, video,” says the department’s Sergeant Adam Holland, who investigates internet crimes against children. He adds that while parents are only now getting used to dealing with the issue of internet safety at home, but more devices are coming out which grant kids easier access.

“It’s a common misconception that, if I have control of this environment within my home and our computer usage, I therefore control what my child has access to… And that’s proving not to be the case.”

Kody Pickle, who works at the Fort Smith Best Buy, tells KFSM that more parents are asking about the DSi, but not so much about its safety features. Among those included are ways to lock out certain internet websites.

“If the only website you want your kids to go to is YouTube,” Pickle says, “you go into the parental lockout feature, put in YoutTube’s URL, and that’s the only website your kids will be able to go to.”

Kotaku adds that “It’s really a good thing that kids these days don’t have cell phones and that cell phones don’t have cameras or internet browsers!” Of course, I imagine that there is a greater chance of parents buying a DSi for a younger child than a cellphone, but then that’s just me; I don’t know what the hell parents are up to these days.