Feeds

Facebook games teach teens bad habits

More reasons not to like

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.