2013.11.6 3DS

Japan’s Yomiuri Newspaper reported on Tuesday that Ibaraki Prefectural Police had arrested two men on suspicions that they abused a 12 year-old girl they had met using Nintendo’s Internet-connected 3DS portable gaming system. Even though the girl’s parents had used parental controls to disable the Internet access on the 3DS, she found a way to reconnect the device and go online, which led her to the two middle-aged men.

The article says that police re-arrested 49 year-old Hiroshi Nagata, who had been previously charged for “indecent assault,” under suspicion of raping the girl. The Yokohama resident allegedly assaulted the girl in January and February in an Ibaraki hotel.

The second man arrested was 36 year-old Shu Ishitobi from Chiba Prefecture. He was held for attempted rape and is suspected of molesting the girl on Feburary 11 in a hotel in Ibaraki Prefecture.

This news comes as Nintendo recently announced that it will be suspending SpotPass, a feature on the 3DS app Swapnote where users can exchange handwritten notes, which the company said was being used by some, including minors, to “exchange offensive material.” The company suspended the photo-exchanging feature on October 31 to “limit the risk of any inappropriate activity or misuse of a service.”

While it is not clear if this note-sharing feature was used in this case, it is quite disturbing that the two men could use the 3DS – a device often considered by parents as safe even for younger children – to lure the girl. Especially since her parents had taken the pro-active step of disabling the device’s Internet capabilities to avoid this exact situation.

What should Nintendo do to address this problem of older men using their devices to lure children? Is there anything they can do or do parents simply have to better monitor their children’s video game use?

 Source: Yomiuri Shimbun via Yahoo! Japan News  (Thanks, Steve)
 Image: Wikipedia