Protecting your children – no matter where they are – is an instinctive and inherent part of being a parent. So when it comes to the internet and the virtual worlds within it, making sure kids are safe is naturally the number one priority for mums and dads.
Parents concerned about online safety for their children can fairly easily determine which virtual worlds offer noticeable ‘gate-keeping’. Reputable, trusted brands will have robust cyber safety policies in place and in practice 24/7.
One such example is the spectacularly successful Club Penguin, which boasts a remarkable 200 million accounts opened worldwide (1.5-million of which have been created in Australia since 2008). A snow-covered world for children’s Penguin avatars, Club Penguin is not just a game, it is a superbly imaginative destination in which children’s Penguin avatars socialise.
Club Penguin was started by a group of parents (who just happened to be internet specialists) that wanted to create an ad-free virtual world for their children; a place in which the parents would feel comfortable letting their kids roam.
Fast-forward eight years and Club Penguin, now owned by the Walt Disney Company, is the globe’s number one virtual world destination for children. For this reason alone, it is not surprising that Club Penguin has an impressive suite of safety features in place to make sure children are protected, and are able to develop their awareness and understanding of how to act in an online world.
The safety features in place include:
Ultimate Safe Chat
Parents can choose to have their children join the Ultimate Safe Chat group. This limits players’ vocabulary to a select menu of greetings, questions and statements so that parents can feel confident their child can only communicate with other Ultimate Safe Chat members.
Standard Safe Chat
Players belonging to this group can type freely, but an active blacklist prevents them from using inappropriate language, sharing phone numbers, or detailing information about their location (e.g. ‘st’, ‘rd’, etc). This form of chatting is filtered by a ‘white list’ – a series of pre-approved words that would prevent players from typing symbols to replace inappropriate language.
24/7 Live Moderation
A group of trained online safety experts monitor Club Penguin at any given time and from various points around the globe.
Pop Culture Monitoring
Disney keeps track of social trends that might influence players (e.g. remaining up-to-date with language acronyms to ensure certain emerging trends are blacklisted).
Misconduct Reporting Tool
The icon ‘M’ enables players to report any online misconduct (such as cyber bullying). The report goes straight to on-site moderators who manage the concern directly.
Gives players the power to block all communication from specific penguins.
Players are asked to adhere to a series of Club Penguin rules, which includes respecting others, not using bad language, staying safe online and not cheating.
In today’s increasingly online world, the question is not so much whether children should or should not be online, but rather where they should be online. For more peace of mind, look for sites you know are going to entertain, inform and engage your children, as well as keep them as safe as possible.