What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that kids who use this game-centric site can contact other users, but the recipient's email address will be hidden for privacy. Kids can also block email from other members. To participate in forums, track scores, or challenge friends, users must be older than 13 (although the site doesn't verify that) and register using an email address. Many of the games are quite violent and bloody. The site discourages iffy behavior like harassing other members, and some users act as monitors. But although users can report bad posts and administrators say they'll remove inappropriate material, things clearly slip through.
What's it about?
Yes, HALLPASS.COM has a lot of games -- the site features hundreds, divided into categories like dress-up, action, and card and casino games. And the games are fun. Some feature impressive graphics and music, and many are easy to play without having to read pages and pages of instructions. Users also can comment on the games and upload their own game creations to the site.
Is it any good?
Although kids may find the games at Hallpass.com easy and fun to play, many of them are really violent, with characters fighting to the (somewhat bloody) death. One game is all about repeatedly killing a stick man using things like an atomic bomb or an arrow. The site's logic games could also be more positive. It would be nice if several weren't called "idiot games," or if users didn't start out being ranked as a "complete idiot" (ouch).
Another potential concern is the site's message boards. They're loosely monitored and can contain links to personal sites and things like a video (which looked a little too real to be considered funny) of a man getting suddenly -- and possibly fatally -- hit by a car. Parents may be able to screen the site and find some appropriate games for kids. There certainly are some harmless dress-up, sports, and other games. But with all the violence and potentially offensive message board chatter, letting a kid wander through the full game list unsupervised probably isn't the best idea.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why it might be a good idea to block all email from other users when kids register for a site. Why would it be worth making that change in your profile settings, instead of just blocking one person at a time if they bother you? What kind of things should you be concerned about strangers emailing you?