The Nintendo DS System

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The Nintendo DS System
The Nintendo DS System

Feb. 14, 2006

We have an important warning for parents. Today marks the three-month anniversary of the launch of the Nintendo DS Wireless Connection. But Action News has learned this popular gaming system could put kids in harm's way.

Parents buy the system so their children can play video games. But we have made an alarming discovery. Strangers can use this toy to lure unsuspecting children to dangerous places.

Nintendo's hot new creation markets primarily to children. It even comes complete with playmates. The handheld gaming system is like a mini computer. It has built-in wireless capability. That allows kids to battle fellow Nintendo DS players across the room or across the world. "They can play somebody they've never met."

All you need is a home wireless network or a Wi-Fi hot spot. And the game is catching on. Just this week, Nintendo announced more than 850-thousand users have logged on since the service's launch last November.
"It's a great thing for kids to have - they love it."
But as Theresa Keel learned, that revolutionary wireless capability also comes with a potentially dangerous problem..
"It could be putting your children at risk."

Theresa's 11-year-old daughter, Emily, likes to doodle so she's using the Nintendo DS Pictochat feature. Pictochat puts you right into a chatroom and lets you send messages wirelessly, and on this day we are in one of Philadelphia's many Wi-Fi hotspots.

Theresa Keel/Center City: "This screen name pops up and asks her what her name is and how old she is, and she answers."
Emily Keel/Center City: "And I just felt a little scared and confused."
This has happened to the Keel's once before. But this time the screen name is so offensive, we can't even show it to you.
"It frightened me. It really did."

The stranger asks Emily: "Hey what's up? Are you still here? My name's Jud. What's your name?"
"But it was scary to me as a parent that someone I don't know is talking to my child over what I consider a toy."
And Jud is persistent. When Emily won't tell him where she lives. He says, "Why won't you tell me? Don't want to chat? Why not? Are you afraid?"

Keith Dunn/Internet Safety Expert: "Predators are using Nintendo DS anywhere in the world. And it's going to be really hard to track down those individuals because of course, they're on a wireless network from a hotspot such as a coffee shop. Or if they're in a wireless environment, say a coffee shop or whatever, they jump on the wireless network so now you have predators who are trying to get at our kids."

Internet safety expert Keith Dunn says parents need to teach their children to apply stranger danger rules to every and any situation.
"Don't talk to strangers in game rooms if you don't know they're your friends. Don't talk to anyone. Just stop talking. Stop chatting in the game room."

Dunn also says parents should educate themselves.
"Parents really need to pay attention to what they're purchasing, ask a lot of questions, and really find out more about the game, what's involved - other than the video game aspect of it. Can you talk to other people? Can other people connect to my son's or daughter's mini game system?"
Now Theresa and Emily are on alert. They don't plan on taking any chances.

"And eventually I got really scared that I shut the thing off without responding back."
Nintendo confirms what happened to Emily is possible but the company claims that person must also be using another DS system and be within 65 feet. Like our expert, Nintendo also warns parents to educate their children not to talk to strangers even on their gaming system. Also, beware, there are other wireless gaming systems made by different manufacturers and they may have similar issues.

Liz Woolley