Friday, August 22, 2008

What online games are safe to let our kids play?

I was reading a blog “Am I a bad dad for letting my kid use the headset in Xbox Live?” about a dad talking about the things being said to an 11 year old on Xbox. I thought it brought up a good point, what are adults and teenagers saying to our kids and each other. The name calling alone was enough to say I cannot let my children, who are much younger then 11, play Xbox Live, even with the speaker on let alone with the headset on. As he pointed out his son has told him about the names, but what has he not told him about.

I have seen some adults “play” and they can get quite verbally abusive. Everything from name calling to death threats can be heard when adult’s play, and that is with out the anonymity of being online. I don’t know what people are willing to say when no one can identify them, where there is little or no risk for being aggressive and no reason to be “nice”. At what point does the environment become so negative or toxic that our children should not be exposed? I know that when I play poker some of the people online are quit offensive, but I have the option to block their chat or report them. If they are breaking the rules, i.e. using abusive language they can be kicked off the system or their chat rights removed depending on how bad they were. I don’t think this option is available on Xbox Live, all you can do is limit chat to who is on your friends list and I think that takes away from the game if you are trying to be part of a team but cannot talk to them.

I know that there are quite a few sites now for kids to chat and play games. Who are the other people on the other computers? What are they willing to say to kids? I can only control what my kids say and do, not what they hear and read. This is why I don’t think online live games are going to be a part of my kids lives for sometime, or mine unless I have some control over what I hear and read. My kids and I don’t need to be abused to have fun, thank you. I want to be able to cut someone off if they are being abusive, I don’t need to hear it, nor do my kids.

I think the real problem is that there is not a moderator on Xbox Live, nor is there any way to have a moderator unless they start using verbal recognition programs and tap into every single game. The only way to control what is being said is for the people to control themselves, and that is not going to happen. Options, stop playing the game when a person becomes abusive, play through it, or don’t play at all. So you may want to think twice about what you are getting your kids this Christmas. What doorways are these online games going to open and what control do you have over them?

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