'Xbox runaway' found after leaving home for boy

NEED TO KNOW
  • 13-year-old stole family truck, drove 800 miles
  • Left from Houston to see boy she met while playing on Xbox
  • Family reunited, dad says, 'Hug your kid every day. Tell them you love them.'
'Xbox runaway' found after leaving home for boy

Most parents who worry about their child's video game habit do so because they don't want their kid becoming a zombie-like lump, wasting away in front of a screen all night.

Legitimate as that is, there's another potential danger about which many parents remain unaware -- and it was fully illustrated in "worst scenario mode" this weekend in Nashville.

That's where police found a 13-year-old girl from Houston, who was driving to Kentucky to meet a 12-year-old boy she had met while playing Xbox.

"She started staying in her bedroom more, isolating herself where she was always with the headset, always talking," he mother told Houston's KHOU. "That's how they communicated through the Xbox."

It's of course an extreme example and a spin on the more common concerns about who a child may meet while online, but most parents generally view gaming consoles like the Xbox as strictly for video games or media -- not as a virtual conduit for kids to meet and hang out.

In Robinson's case, she became so determined to go see the boy with whom she'd been chatting that she stole her family pick-up truck as well as her mother's ATM card. She left a note telling her family that she had gone to a friend's house because she was upset about being bullied at school.

The real story started to reveal itself when her parents recalled how they had recently taken Elizabeth's Xbox away and she had been asking about the mileage on the truck.

Police found her 800 miles into her journey, tracking her down through ATM records. She was safe and was brought back home where the family had a tearful reunion.

"For her to jump out and run to me -- that’s my baby," said Tressa Robinson told WFAA. "That’s my little girl. That’s the little girl I know. That’s my Beth."

"Hug your child," implored Elizabeth's father, Robbie. "Hug your kid every day. Tell them you love them. Talk to them. Ask them if there’s anything you can do. I have to start doing that more."

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