Feeds

Facebook games teach teens bad habits

More reasons not to like

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
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.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.