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Smedley Blog: Games and Kids

Posted by Jon Wood on Aug 22, 2006  | Comments

Smedley Blog: Games and Kids -

There has been a lot of debate surrounding video games, and a way to allow them to be fun for children, and yet safe as well. Online games can provide a special challenge in this area.

John Smedley, CEO of SOE, weighs in on the subject not as a game developer but as many of us would, as a parent.

The blog can be found at stationblog here.

I had an interesting experience this weekend. My oldest daughter (she’s 9) was playing an online game (not one of ours and not WoW) and someone asked her how old she was. As I had taught her she immediately put this person on the ignore list, reported them via an in-game command and came to me and let me know what had happened. Since this had happened one previous time in this particular game (with the exact same response from her) I immediately cancelled the account.I’m a parent with 4 kids ranging in age from 5 to 11. All 4 of them play games. I actively game with my son (the 11 year old). My youngest 2 kids (ages 5 and 6) also play games (Disney’s ToonTown which I highly recommend as a VERY SAFE game).

Why am I talking about this? Very simple - online games are great for kids. My son is a lighting fast typist and absolutely loves online games. We have a set time he’s allowed to play and I actively use parental controls in all of the games that make them available.

My wife and I have sat down with each of the older kids and discussed what is and isn’t ok in the online gaming world. They know never to give out private information of any kind, and they know to immediately come to us if someone asks for it. In each of the games they play I have personally checked out their friends list to make sure the only people on them are people they know in real life. We also only let them play games that we feel are age appropriate.

We’ve all seen the stories about kids being contacted by older strangers and trying to lure them into doing some dangerous and bad things. I’m here to tell you to be extremely vigilant. Make sure as parents you are very aware of what games your kids are playing and exactly how communication happens in these games.

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