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Privacy and Internet Safety

What are massively multiplayer online games, or MMOs, and are they safe for my kid?

Multiplayer games (technically called "massively multiplayer online games," or MMOGs, or MMOs) let kids play against their friends and other people they meet on a game's network. Some popular examples are World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons Online. Most of these games allow for instant messaging and conversation through headsets and can be great opportunities for teamwork and group problem solving.

The main things to keep an eye on are interactions with strangers, which can be part of the fun but also a potential risk; harassment from other players, which can take the form of bullying or even sexual harassment; and, finally, the amount of time these games require. It can be helpful to discuss each of these issues and talk about balancing gaming time with other activities before your kid starts playing MMOs.

You might want to take a look at the privacy settings the site offers, and talk to your kids about responsible online communication, including not sharing personal information. Read through the website's "parent section" if it has one.