Feeds

Facebook games teach teens bad habits

More reasons not to like

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A Welsh online safety campaigner is warning that popular Facebook social games encourage bad habits among young users.

Charles Conway, an associate member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, says games like Pet Society use virtual cash to reward players interacting with strangers. He says out that in a game designed for the younger Facebook user, basing rewards on “visits” to strangers is a recipe for online “grooming” by strangers.

While Facebook’s rules demand parental permission for any member under age 13, there’s no effective way to enforce such a constraint, Conway told The Register.

“Children mature at different rates,” he explained, “and where a ‘streetwise’ 13-year-old may be able to identify a ‘weirdo’ on Facebook at a glance, another may think a potential abuser is just being friendly.”

Perhaps refreshingly, however, Conway agreed that at least in the home, parental education and supervision are likely to be the most effective defense against online predators.

However, he told The Register that game designers should also consider whether the rewards they offer in child-targeted games are right for the audience. While it’s impossible to interact on Facebook without encountering people you don’t already know, the depth of that interaction in a game environment can be constrained.

For example, game developers could ensure that “connections made [to strangers] are limited to the game environment, and do not create connections on Facebook as a whole”.

Facebook could also play its part, he said. “By choosing to allow developers to access their API and publish those games … Facebook has a responsibility to ensure that users are not exposed to danger from predators by being encouraged and rewarded to connect with strangers, simply to progress in the game environment.”

Facebook's own troubles continue to hog headlines. While calls for privacy probes are escalating in Europe, Australia's privacy commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has accepted the company's assurance that it has revised its cookie use, and suspended his investigation for now. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
UK smart meters arrive in 2020. Hackers have ALREADY found a flaw
Energy summit bods warned of free energy bonanza
DRUPAL-OPCALYPSE! Devs say best assume your CMS is owned
SQLi hole was hit hard, fast, and before most admins knew it needed patching
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Mozilla releases geolocating WiFi sniffer for Android
As if the civilians who never change access point passwords will ever opt out of this one
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.