A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that users "self-govern" this unmonitored virtual world and social networking site, but it doesn't seem like anyone's governing anything in this sexually charged and confusing town. Not to mention, users can post anything about themselves -- including full name and age, as well as photos -- and if they don't restrict their profiles, everything is available to everyone. While creating, buying, and selling virtual products may be an educational exercise in business skills, members use real money to buy online coins.
What's it about?
In the virtual world of FAKETOWN.COM, you choose where to live, \"buy\" a plot of land, create your own home, buy and sell items with community members, and even run for mayor -- all this just by using a free animation tool and uploading photos and songs for free (until you want to save them, that is).
Is it any good?
The premise may sound like educational fun, but the reality of this unmonitored site is a cluttered landscape with loud music videos, as well as some rude language, suggestive photos, and senseless consumerism. And, it may be confusing for teens that this site uses a mix of avatar-style graphics and real-life video and photos. Parents should spend some time in this fake community before deciding to give some real money to their teen to "live" here.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about safety on social networking sites and why a site might not be so safe for young teens even though they're allowed to use it. Our Top Ten Tips for Kids for Viral Media is a great resource, but these questions should get the conversation started: What information should you include in your profile, and what should you leave out? What can you do if you feel like someone is bullying you or wants to meet you in person?