It's not always a comfort when kids are online, so parents may have concerns about their teens using Habbo. What does the site do to protect teens?
Habbo is definitely targeted at teens, but you don't have to be a teen to join Habbo's social network. Habbo's creator, Sulka Haro, noted recently that even though the majority of users are between the ages of 13 and 16, the Japanese version of the game tends to attract a lot of older housewives [source: Sinclair].
Typically, though, Habbo users are teenagers. Kids of this age are building their own identities, and the Habbo universe allows them to experiment and socialize outside of their typical surroundings. And once these users get drivers' licenses and the freedom that comes with growing older, they usually abandon Habbo's online community to join the real world [source: Sinclair].
Because the user base skews teen, Habbo doesn't encourage users to meet each other offline -- this social network remains strictly in the virtual world. The site educates users on "stranger danger" and other online perils like giving out account information to anyone other than Habbo staff. The Habbo Hotel's moderators are on duty 24 hours a day. These moderators are trained as Customers Assistants and Safety Monitors, vetted by police. Habbo offers users a clearly labeled button, which is accessible at all times, that they can use to receive immediate help from a moderator if they need it.
The site also employs an "emergency assistance" feature. The site's FAQ makes clear what constitutes an emergency, and users abusing that feature can find themselves banned from the site. Emergencies include:
- Someone saying something that scares you
- Someone using extremely graphic or bad language
- Someone using hate speech about you or another Habbo (racism is not tolerated in the hotel)
- Someone threatening to hurt you offline or in real life
- Someone threatening to steal your account
- Someone acting out rape or extreme violence in the hotel
- Someone asking you very personal information such as email, pics, webcam, AIM, etc.
- Witnessing dangerous behavior in the hotel (personal information sharing, arranging meetings offline, or the like)
Moderators also drop in unannounced to random chat rooms, reporting any questionable behavior to the appropriate authorities. Another interesting feature is Habbo's language filter. If someone uses or posts swearing, racist or sexist language, the word "bobba" automatically replaces it.
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