What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that while Gaia Online may attract young teens with its lively graphics, games, and opportunities to socialize with other kids, if you don't turn the filter on, adult language and topics are common. There's no doubt that your teen will stumble upon threads discussing "masturbation myths and fads" and "WTF moments" in a matter of minutes. The site also pushes kids to buy buy buy with their Gaia Gold virtual currency. The positive side of that is it teaches kids about money -- and to save up for something they like.
What's it about?
Log on to Gaia Online and play games, connect with other 13- to 18-year-old anime fans, collect downloadable wallpaper for cell phones, and buy items in virtual stores with Gaia Cash, which is earned with every session spent on the site. The first stop after your free sign-up is creating your avatar. When kids want to meet new people, they can hang out in virtual spaces such as the town and Virtual Hollywood, where they can chat and go clubbing. Kids also have the opportunity to earn extra Gaia Cash by participating in advertised offers such as completing surveys, signing up for free trials, watching videos, etc.
Is it any good?
Though the site appears to be kid-friendly and moderators are supposed to be trolling the boards for inappropriate images, racist and sexist language, and adult content, if you don't use the word filter it's rampant with such fare. For example, on a recent visit, the following threads appeared: "Your best WTF moment was…?" "What are your fave pick-up lines?" "Masturbation Myths and Fads" and "Poll: I wanna have sex with a boy." Perhaps the moderators were asleep at the wheel or their safety claim is just that -- a claim. Either way, it'd be good to sit down with the kids as they surf the site or just steer them away. There are plenty of others with cleaner content and just as robust audiences.
Online interaction: While some users may find support and camaraderie in the forums, there is also a lot of negativity.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about maintaining boundaries online. What steps can you take to maintain your safety in a chat room? What information should you keep private in personal profiles and chat rooms?