I have a son who is 10. He plays online games with a small group of other kids of very similar ages. I know who they are, and I know the parents, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that we are friends. I don't even have phone numbers for most of them.

Within the games there is a side chat. I do not always read it daily, but I scroll back and read up to current every day or so. I have realized tonight that there is a kid in there that is racist. What he has said in the past wasn't really certain to me, as kid speak can be a little odd anyway, but the chat today definitely had some racist tones, to anyone familiar with those terms/words/phrases. I can promise you, my son missed it completely, in chat he even asked for clarification, as it was unfamiliar to him, and the other child said "nevermind, went over your head". No other children seemed to join in or grasp what he was meaning either as far as I could tell (age range is 9-11 in this group of about 8 kids in total, 6 were on tonight).

I know I need to inform my son what it meant and to explain that what has been said is troubling and inappropriate.

I am thinking, that if a child of this age knows these references, there is a very good chance he has learned it at home, so I am unsure if I should even bother trying to address the parents of this child. I am equally unsure if other parents are monitoring the chatting, and not sure what the ethical/moral/social expectations are regarding alerting the other parents of children chatting in there.

I would appreciate input and thoughts on this type of situation, particularly if you have ever dealt with it in your own kids. I am sure if I think longer on it I will have clearer thoughts too. Right now I am just upset and haven't had a lot of time to think and I was hoping that some outside perspectives might assist in clearer ideas on the best way to handle it.

So recap / TL;DR:

My kid (10 years old) is in a game chat with 7 other kids he knows. I know who the other parents are but we don't know one another well. One kid has made racist remarks which I think the other children were confused by and didn't understand the reference based on the reaction.

Ideas on how best to talk to my son & explain the situation?

Do I have any obligation to tell other parents with kids in that group what I read?

Do I bother attempting to talk to his parents and make sure they are aware?

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    It is really hard to judge without actually knowing what has been said. 10-year-olds also make (offensive) jokes without thinking about it too much. How severe has it been, how much is it "repeating what's in the media, trying anything to just make your friends upset", how much is it what he heard at home at the dinner table and how much is it what he thinks? That is very hard to say. Maybe you can bring it up with some parents that you at least know a little? I am not sure how much going directly to his parents would escalate it (in case he heard it at the dinner table).
    – skymningen
    Aug 17, 2017 at 7:01
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    In that case, I would go for "innocent unless proven otherwise". Keep an eye out. If this child is upsetting your child (not necessarily with racist remarks, but in general), try talking to your child about how they feel about that. Discuss some of the remarks and move on. This can be a good chance for the group of children to learn, that not everyone has to be/stay your friend if they don't behave like a friend. If there come up more and more serious racial remarks at some point I would bring it up with the child's parents.
    – skymningen
    Aug 17, 2017 at 7:39
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    It would help to know the nature of the racist comments. Food & drink references doesn't spark anything in my mind, so I may be naive, too. Aug 17, 2017 at 11:49
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    I am well aware that in China this may be true. Saying such things about a local food purveyor though is derogatory, as Americans do have such a visceral reaction & "Chinese" food within the US is not typically in any way like local cuisine within China, it's tweaked to an American palette most often. This family, also lives within our small community & making accusations that they are servings domestic pets as food isn't remotely kind and is absolutely racial stereotyping. I take no issue with what people in other countries eat, merely that stating they are serving it is an issue.
    – threetimes
    Aug 17, 2017 at 16:28
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    From what you've said about inappropriate "food and drink" references, it doesn't sound like the kid has crossed the line into racist remarks, just maybe an unhealthy fixation with trying to push other people's buttons with "gross" comments, although that can be a serious problem, too. I think that you need to better explain the nature of the problem in more detail if you want advice here. Look at the question you wrote and imagine yourself in our shoes: How can anyone be expected to give good advice based on the very limited information given in the question? Sep 4, 2017 at 20:50

4 Answers 4


Ideas on how best to talk to my son & explain the situation. Do I have any obligation to tell other parents with kids in that group what I read? Do I bother attempting to talk to his parents and make sure they are aware?

From your comments, it's hard to judge the best way to handle this. China is far from the only country that eats dog/cat meat, but I presume it was a Chinese restaurant.

To answer your questions,

Ideas on how best to talk to my son & explain the situation.

Just plain, straightforward conversation about lies, stereotypes (girls don't really have cooties) and racial stereotypes.

I worked in a hospital in a city where 25% of the population was Puerto Rican, so I learned Spanish. Now, I really like Spanish, and loved being able to speak it. But when a Mexican came in, I loved their Spanish. They spoke slowly, enunciated beautifully, and their intonation was lyrical. I later learned that because they speak slowly, they are thought by many to be stupid. How sad. I shared this information with my kids, who were learning Spanish at the time. Racism, stereotypes etc., are just a fact of life, not a pretty one, but there it is. Make your kids aware that they are simply unkind stereotypes and that he should pay them no heed.

Do I have any obligation to tell other parents with kids in that group what I read?

Not unless you're close to them. Especially this kind of stereotype. If it was worse, I might consider doing so. (What's "worse" to me? Holocaust deniers, Newtown deniers, white supremacists, islamophobes, etc.)

Do I bother attempting to talk to his parents and make sure they are aware?

I wouldn't. If they cared deeply, they would be monitoring their kid's chat, too. They have a right - sadly, sometimes - to raise their kid how they see best. Maybe this doesn't bother them, maybe it does, maybe he heard this at home, or at school. If hate is involved, that's different, and I might bring up hate speech. But as you noted yourself, the kid might just be doing it to get a reaction from the other players.


As a previous competitive gamer, I have spent my time listening to the conversations of players of all ages interacting while playing. Though their tone, topic, meaning and reference of these conversations may vary you can definitely make out the "griefers" of the bunch. As a new parent, I will rue the day my daughter can use an internet-based device and she gets a private life of her own, but it will be good to keep track of her exposure to the real world. Here are some things to remember:

  • Kids that play online games use it as a time to get to know their friends better. Whether they know it or not, the game is working as a distraction for their cognitive skills and they are subconsciously listening to tone and meaning. With that information they are able to make decisions on who they can and can't get along with in the real world.

  • I agree with you that racism starts at home but also remember at this age they maybe interacting with older kids and that can have a MAJOR impact on their views and thoughts. (This is in reference to your comment where the child said "it went over your head" meaning they heard it from someone, possibly an older child, and they didn't understand it, hence the older child said it to him, until another person told them the meaning)**.

  • Kids are naturally inquisitive so asking you is their first step toward finding out what they want to know. Unless they are satisfied with the information you provided them, they will go searching the Internet for the information they want. (This actually for you is the best thing that he asked you first, so at least you can give him some context as well as try to shape what you see on the issue before he is poisoned by a Google search on the Internet).

** I realize this was confusing but read it carefully.

I know it is a lot to think about but this is a topic you can gauge your child's growing experience with real world issues and direct them in the right way and also see how they are able to handle such issues.

Here are a few things I suggest and in my opinion would be helpful:

  1. Do your best to answer the question and try to remain open and receptive. A quick shutdown answer is only going to push them toward the Internet faster.

  2. Also talk to your child to see how well they know the other person and see what level of influence or social stance they hold with your child. This can help ease your mind as to how they take their views and jokes.

  3. Keep an eye on future conversations and see if this persists with the same child. I know you can't monitor your child's interactions in real life but at least keeping an eye on this kind of situation can give you an insite into what is going on with them in social circles.

  4. Remember kids can be mean. The offending child maybe trying to act cool outside of school to show an alpha personality when in social situations away from the screen they revert back to submissiveness. Another good reason to continue to monitor.

  5. If it persists, talk to the child's parents openly. They may not know what is going on in their son's life if they are being influenced by an older child or sibling. This may help open their eyes to their own child's needs whether they are harboring a growing bully or a closet aggressive reverting to a submissive in social situations.

  6. If talking to the parents reveals they maybe the source then I would alert the parents of the other children in that situation. At this point they should be alerted if they don't already know that they their child maybe getting the beginnings of a much bigger issue of HATE and steps should be taken to safeguard and prepare them.

I hope this helps in some way but I feel by your description that you are in a really good position to lean them on the right path and they have grow well by your teaching and that they are comfortable enough with you at that age to ask these kinds of questions.

On the outset, dare I say to them you may be a great mentor or a hero.

Suggestions posted here are my opinion and are only posted in an effort to rationalize the situation as well as bring some thought to the position described.


What is a problem with another child has become a teaching opportunity. Seize it and treat it like one.

It is an (unfortunate) fact of life that racism exists. Depending on where you live, it may be overt or not. Since you child will come across it at some point, he should be aware of what it is. So take the time to explain what racism is and what it looks like. Explain why it is bad, who it hurts, etc. Explain the derogatory terms.

This won't be a pleasant conversation, but that doesn't diminish the importance of having it. And if you don't have that conversation with him, someone else (schoolmates, teachers, random online people, etc.) will. And what they teach him may not be in line with what you want to teach him.

Once he knows what racism is, you can give him tools to deal with it. When this child makes racist remarks your son can:

  • Ask the child to not make such remarks because they are hurtful/wrong/...
  • Ignore / mute the child while playing online games (most have the ability to stop seeing chat from a specific person)
  • Choose to not play with that child
  • Choose to not be friends with that child
  • Ignore the remarks
  • Etc.

At that point, trust your child to handle it himself. If he doesn't seem to do anything about it (or maybe if he does), it might be worth having a follow up conversation with him. "How's playing X going? I know Billy was having trouble with saying hurtful things before, has that stopped? Have you said anything to him?" This gives you an opportunity to help do a course correction or be proud of your child for standing up for others.

As far as letting the other child's parents know, it's up to you. You can't parent someone else's child and you can't force someone else to deal with it. You can mention it to them out of concern then let them take care of it. If they do, great. If not, there isn't much you can do about it.


You cannot parent someone else's child. You cannot protect your child from other people all the time. All you can do is reiterate your beliefs and views to your child. You can explain that some people have differing ideas and opinions but you don't share them. You son will have to deal with this type of thing himself. He can quit playing that game all together, he can quit playing when that child is playing, he can ignore the other child completely or only when making those comments. He can confront the child directly with a statement that those things make him uncomfortable. He will have to decide which method works for him.

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