Virtual World Safety Tips for Parents of Teens
Virtual worlds are online spaces where people create avatars (graphical representations of themselves) through which they communicate, socialize, learn, shop, play games, and generally express themselves. There are hundreds of virtual worlds on the Web aimed at users of all ages. Most aimed at youth have safety features, such as language filtering that restricts explicit, mean, or profane language. Some virtual worlds have people monitoring user behavior, while others leave it up to users to police themselves and their community.
So the No. 1 safety tip for virtual worlds, as for anything else, is good parent-child communication. Low-key, routine discussion about online experiences, just as with offline ones, makes it easier for them to talk with you when things come up. The most likely risks for teens in virtual worlds, just like in school halls and elsewhere, are cyberbullying or harassment and sexually suggestive communication among peers. Language filters help, but kids often have workarounds. Examples are alternative text understood by peers and various mean behaviors, such as ostracizing, ignoring, or reporting on peers with untruthful abuse reports; stalking others' avatars; and using people's passwords against them. Here are some pointers for safe, constructive in-world experiences.
Virtual worlds are user-driven. Positive experiences in virtual worlds largely depend on participants' behavior toward each other and how well the space is supervised. As with social network sites, most of the content in these worlds is the communications of their users and therefore more likely policed (or reacted to) than controlled. Parents need to know that 1) there are worlds that youth can find and access which are not designed for minors and do little to block them, and 2) some teen and adult worlds have communications tools in addition to instant messaging, in-world email, and text chat, including voice and video chat features. The latter can be risky for children and teens to use.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- Social Cognitive Theory
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- The Homework Debate
- First Grade Sight Words List