The EU Agency ENISA, the European Network and Information Security Network Agency, launches a report on virtual worlds with 25 safety tips for parents on how to make their children behave safely in online virtual worlds.
Club Penguin, Barbie Girl, Moshi Monsters, Webkinz, etc. Is your child spending hours playing online games? Well, you are not alone. Virtual world sites are now hugely popular and have become a compelling activity for many Internet users. The rate of growth in online social networks, including virtual words for children has risen over the last past years. With more than 100 youth-focused virtual worlds, regulators and parents are struggling to keep pace. It has been estimated that 20 Mn children and tweens will visit virtual worlds by 2011 (8.2 Mn in 2007. Source: EMarketer Inc.)
Parents are naturally concerned about how their children use and behave in virtual worlds. The biggest concerns is the online safety of children (7 years old and under) and tweens (8-12 years old) and how they can be protected from online predators. Awareness of what children can do online and parental involvement is crucial. Parents should be educated, empowered and engaged to ensure truly positive and valuable experiences for their children, while reinforcing safety online habits in these three-dimensional environments.
The ENISA paper gives 25 safety tips to parents. These tips provide clear and comprehensive tools for parents to decide with their child what is appropriate and safe, to behave responsibly as well as to have fun in virtual worlds. Sample tips range from computer security, to rules, and advice on parents’ and children’s education, e.g;
- Keep the computer in a common room.
- Set house Internet/mobiles rules if and how to use virtual worlds.
- When activating a child‘s account, always do it using the parent’s email address.
- Be aware that parental consent should be required to process sensitive personal data, for chat rooms, send unsolicited commercial e-mails, etc.
- Have children use neutral nicknames, not their real ones.
- Communicate with your children about their experiences. Encourage them to tell if they feel uncomfortable or threatened online.
For all 25 safety tips, please click here
To read the full report, please click here
The Executive Director of ENISA, Mr. Andrea Pirotti remarked:
“It is our responsibility as adults to secure that our children can have both fun and safely enjoy online gaming and virtual worlds.”