Is Fantage safe?
Between shows like "To Catch a Predator" and the daily stories on cyberbullying, parents have every reason to be concerned about letting their children interact with other people over the Internet. While Fantage has a number of precautions in place to put parents at ease, the Web site stresses that responsibility ultimately falls on the parents to monitor their children's behavior.
Before individuals can join the Fantage community, they must agree not to share personal information about themselves. For instance, members can tell one another that they are from Los Angeles, but they aren't allowed to say exactly what street they live on. Additionally, parents can set different restrictions on the type of chat that their child is allowed to engage in. One option is for parents to eliminate the chat option altogether, which removes nearly any chance that their child would be exposed to inappropriate conversations while exploring Fantage. Another option is to enact "safe chat" mode, where users are only allowed to select from a predetermined list of phrases when chatting with one another. Even users with unrestricted chat capabilities are warned that their conversations are monitored for inappropriate material. Members caught using foul language are subject to suspension or expulsion from the game, which could make them think twice before saying something offensive.
Fantagians also have their own defense against would-be troublemakers. Members can choose to ignore other users who annoy them, and they can even report users to administrators if they feel it's necessary. Moderators constantly monitor the Fantage community as well, adding one more level of security to the Fantage world. Parents should understand, however, that the community is open to a wide range of ages. While some conversations may not violate the rules, parents might not want their 7-year-old reading the conversations of a group of 13-year-olds. And while Fantage has a lot of features designed to provide a safe environment for children, other sites have gone even further. Whyville.net, for instance, requires members to pass a test on appropriate behavior before they are given their "chat license." Even so, Fantage is a far cry from the Wild West of most social networking sites.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Federation of American Scientists. "Fantage."http://vworld.fas.org/wiki/Fantage
- Kopytoff, Verne. "Kids gain valuable skills from time online." The San Francisco Chronicle. Nov. 20, 2008. (6/10/2009) http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/19/BUKE147TA1.DTL
- News.Com.Au. "Facebook, MySpace 'harming kids' brains'." Feb. 24, 2009. (6/10/2009)http://www.news.com.au/technology/story/0,28348,25100716-5014239,00.html
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