Connect Safely Kids’ Virtual World Safety Tips
Virtual worlds are online spaces where kids create avatars (kind of like cartoon characters) 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. Some aimed at young children have controlled text chat, “profanity filters” to block offensive or sexually related chat, and staff or contractors moderating user behavior – you’ll want to check for these safety features. Parents also need to know that there are worlds kids can find and access which are not designed for them.
As with all kids’ online experiences, the No. 1 safety practice is routine parent-child communication. Keeping it low-key and frequent helps our kids come to us when stuff comes up. The most likely risks in kids’ virtual worlds, just like on school playgrounds, are cyberbullying or peer harassment and social-circle drama – including clubby behavior and kids playing “teenager” and talking about “boyfriends,” “girlfriends,” “breakups,” etc. The latter escalates and gets more sexually charged as they head into middle-school age. Language filters help, but kids can be creative with workarounds (see below). The main thing you need to know is that virtual worlds are user-driven: Positive experiences depend on users’ behavior toward each other and how well the space is supervised. Here are some pointers for safe, constructive in-world experiences.
I truly suggest you head over to Connect Safely’s tips for navigating kid virtual worlds as a parent (and kid).
Anne Collier, esteemed author, is amazing and is always watching these area with her eagle eye and brilliance.
The trends and behaviors of kids online are always changing, and yet not changing at all. It’s like a tag cloud – there are all sorts of behaviors a foot and they’re always floating around… they just take turns in the “who gets to be the biggest issue”. It’s never a stale world, my friends – probably more cyclical than anything else, but there you have it… kids. Lol.
I can’t stress to you HOW IMPORTANT it is to understand many of the safety tips that Anne points out. SHARE THEM. Seriously…. SO MANY PEOPLE ARE SEVERELY UNDEREDUCATED or MISEDUCATED regarding the crazy world of web social media. It’s easy, it’s hard, its crazy, and it’s exciting, and all shades of each.
Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease pass that link to any / all of your friends with kids, working with kids, etc.
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