Heads Up: Bad Choices

1. Elf, an MMO by HappyMMO. They DO NOT check your age. At all. Nada. So, they collect your Real name & email… never verifying your age to ensure that you’re able to play or not. Never warning you that if you’re under the age of 18 you need to get your parent to register for you.

They DO mention it in their terms of service (which you have to click a link to open and sift through the legal yadda’s), and we ALL TRULY KNOW THAT KIDS DO NO… DO NOT… DOOOO NOOOOT read that stuff. Period.

(a) Eligibility. Accounts are available only to adult individuals eighteen (18) years of age or older. If you are less than 18 years of age and wish to use the Services, your parent(s) or guardian(s) must complete the registration process, open an Account in their name(s), and accept full responsibility for all obligations under this Agreement. Those who have completed these steps and who maintain their Account in good standing are sometimes referred to in this Agreement as “Member(s)”, “User(s), or “Player(s)”. By clicking the “I Agree” button you represent that you are an adult 18 years of age or older. Only one person may use an Account. The registered User of an Account may use the Account or may choose instead to permit a minor child of the registered User to use the Account. You are liable for all activities conducted through your Account, and parents or guardians are liable for all activities of their minor child conducted through the Account.

http://passport.happymmo.com/DisplayAgreement.html

This stuff outrages me. OUTRAGES me. If you’re going to make a sight that is cartoony and appeals in aesthetics & game play to the youngers of the world (minors in this case, being that you have to be U18 to enroll on your own)… THEN DO IT RIGHT– give the correct login registration information and ENSURE THAT YOUR APPLICANTS ARE WHO THEY NEED TO BE. Kids may lie when they log in– but at least have some sort of corporate responsibility & integrity and TRY to ensure that you’re providing a legally responsible existence. GRAAAWR. Sorry– this stuff just puts me in ragers. Sites like this are shady, creepy, and aggro for me.

All I keep thinking about is that time I was in Maple Story and kids were inviting others to join the “Pedophile” guild as more users were tossing wretched “smexed” up language at each other– unchecked, and talking about Junior High. Junior High = U13. U13 = where are the adults responsible… parents, mods, etc? And what’s worse? WHERE IS THE REPORT BUTTON? There isn’t one. You have to press “ignore” to avoid seeing what you don’t want to see. Sounds somewhat plausible (and very familiar, since the “ignore” option is one i shared with many a kid over the years)… except that EVERY KID IN THERE drops inappro language. So, forget the game– the experience is like Whack-a-Mole for blockin’ & ignoring kids.

2. The Bee Hive, by Iknowthat.com– an educational online service and VW-ish destination that charges (ahem) 49$ a year(!) for subscription. Claims to be safe.

Okay, so… not so creep-tastic as say my rant about Elf (and subsequently, Maple Story). But still. People, if you’re going to make a Virtual Experience with SOME sort of user generated content and MARKET it to the U13 sort, please please please double think everything. Le sigh.

The Bee Hive is another place where they collect your name & email without asking your age for verifying your appropriate existence online. It’s just good policy people, to tell parents that you’re collecting a child’s email & name. Even if the kid lies and doesn’t put the parents’ email address in the text box marked “Parents’ Email Address”– at least have some corporate responsibility and TRY to do it the right way. It’s just smart. And then– when you DO send an email to the address you collected (which, again, was the user’s email address), try to get the language on par– who are you talking to? The user or the parent? Because the email addressed both in this confusing way… And from my humble opinion, makes me think someone wasn’t really writing, editing, planning thoroughly.

And maybe have someone screening the usernames before they go live. My friend logged in and she used the username Pen15. Yes. Pen15. There are always ways around filters– which is why I’m a HUGE component for moderators & screeners on top of tech. Pen15 is a famous naughty webbese term for penis. Like Secks (or smex) is for sex.

It’s a weird web world. And I get that COPPA doesn’t necessarily cover all safety bases, and that not too many governing bodies smack down on the legislation. But… if you’re going to make the decision to work within this demographic market– or at least have a site that may APPEAL to this market… try to put up SOME barriers, ya know?

Or sooner/later Texas’s governor will have to comb the rest of the US sites and do a judo-chop COPPA smack down on others besides TheDollPalace & GamesRadar.

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