My kids are at the ages where they are wanting to be social with their friends on the internet. As a parent I try to research and make sure the sites they go to are kid safe. However, peer pressure is extremely strong. My kids will come up with all sorts of reasons why they should be allowed to go on a particular site and how their friends parents let them. It’s a balancing act to maneuver around the whole peer pressure issue without having our protection backfire causing rebellion.
We’ve had to put parental controls on our computers and phones. We’ve had to screen each website they go to. Unfortunately, what we learned tonight is that there still are sites that pride themselves as being “kid friendly” but in actuality are not.
My kids have been playing Animal Jam for a few months now with their friends. I didn’t allow them to buy a membership until recently when my son earned it with his own money. It didn’t take long for his account to get hacked. He logged on tonight to find that all of the items he had been working on getting and paying for had been stollen. His sister also received a message from him that said, “let’s make kittens together.” Both his sister and myself knew that message was not from him and immediately disabled and changed his password. I am disgusted by the lack of protection on this site as well as the sin that is so heavily prevalent in this world. My poor children will no longer be allowed to have a membership on there and will unlikely go back to play. Animal Jam is very fun and addictive. It was a cute way for my kids to socialize with their friends. It also was a great way to keep them occupied. Not anymore. It has been compromised.
So here are a list of all the websites that promote kid safe play, but are really not safe at all:
1) Animal Jam – hackers, predators, addictive gambling games, unsafe chatting, poor monitoring
2) Petra’s Planet – hackers, predators, unsafe chatting, poor monitoring
3) Penguin ? (Disney) – unsafe chatting, make sure you look into this one to find out if there are more concerns
4) Chicken Smoothie – unsafe chatting, photos, forum style communication, poor monitoring
I hope this post will help other parents as they too try to navigate around the whole internet thing with their kids. Let’s keep the dialogue going. If you know of any other sites we need to be aware of, please post those here. I will do the same. Raising kids takes a village. (A friend of mine said that to me once and I agree!)