Second Life

Common Sense Media says

Adult themes easily encounted in popular virtual world.

Age(i)

NOT FOR KIDS

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Creative self-expression, exploration, and freedom abound and there are ample educational opportunities, including high-level computer programming. But there are often negative behaviors throughout the virtual world.

Violence

Multi-user gaming can be violent. Avatars are armed and can battle one another (usually with a medieval twist). The extent of combat and casualties depends on programming. There have been reports of virtual suicides and rape on the site in the past.

Sex

Although the site has set up an age verification system and a “Red Light District” that tries to confine adult content, it’s not foolproof. The site is rife with mature content, including sex products, role play, orgy rooms, and sex clubs, even though these areas are supposed to be flagged as “adult-only” and kept away from the general public areas (called “the mainland”). The default avatars are genderless, but genitalia can be purchased and avatars are often highly sexualized. Communication is done through text and voice chat, so there’s ample opportunity to inadvertently come across extremely graphic sexual discussions or comments.

Language

Freedom of expression is a core value in Second Life. Users chat with one another and there are no filters on chats or IM, although there are moderators. Even though users are expected to hold one another to a standard of appropriate behavior, there are a wide range of conversations occurring simultaneously, and anything can be said or overheard.

Consumerism

Consumption, shopping, and brands are a large part of the Second Life experience. The site's currency, Linden Dollars, can be bought with U.S. dollars, or earned. Storefronts, products (real and imaginary), and ads are abundant. Most games include ads that run before you can get to the game, and some of them link to other sites. Residents can also buy, sell, and develop virtual land. Some users make a profit, but many primarily spend. Many corporations (including Adidas, Toyota, Harvard Law School, and MTV) have a brand presence. A basic account is free; premium accounts are about $10 a month.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Discussions about drinking, drugs, and smoking occur via the chat functions. Beer, wine, and liquor logos are visible. Avatars are often drinking while socializing. In some of the adult areas, avatars are able to purchase and smoke marijuana and other drugs.

Privacy & safety

The sharing of personal information is discouraged, though many users share information so they can communicate via Skype or cell phone. No personal information is needed to set up the free account initially.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the imaginative virtual world Second Life is an appealing hangout for kids of all ages, but is rife with adult-themes and conversations that are best left to the adults or older teens. There is no longer a Teen Second Life, which once was a safer, monitored virtual world with minimal adult content. Instead, everyone is now routed to SecondLife.com, where they are able to chart their own course and socialize (via text or voice) with any of the millions of registered users from all over the world who also hang there. Areas are rated PG or Mature, but without the restrictions that existed with the teen version, there’s more opportunity for teens to end up chatting with an adult posing as a kid or wandering into some of the adult areas that exist (potentially exposing them to brothels, pornography, etc.). Customizable 3-D avatars are a big draw, and options range from skin color and hair styles to costumes and bust size, so the customization possibilities are practically endless. The site is free to join, but it has limitations unless you upgrade to a monthly membership. The site’s currency, Linden Dollars, can be purchased with U.S. dollars or earned by selling created items.

Parents say

Kids say

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The open-ended environment of this virtual community is part of SECOND LIFE'S appeal and charm, and there’s ample opportunity for kids to flex their creative muscles (though the tools to do so are somewhat clunky). Visitors will find socializing, entertainment, games, and abundant opportunities for learning (sit in on a classroom discussion, run a business, learn to play an instrument). Plus, they can buy, sell, and develop land; build structures, and shop. Avatars can even fly! Certainly, there’s nearly as much to do in this world as there is in the real world. But that’s what also makes it a dangerous environment for kids. Without the safeguards that were in place at Teen Second Life, teens are more likely to wander into -- intentionally or unintentionally -- adult-themed areas or overhear inappropriate conversations or chat with someone who isn’t who they claim to be. Yes, it’s an engaging, creative place full of endless possibilities. But left unchecked or unmonitored, that may also present the biggest concern.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what virtual communities are. What appeals to kids about using an avatar rather than a true identity? Families can also discuss consumerism in virtual worlds. What are users really getting by buying pretend stuff in this pseudo-world?

  • Families can also talk about the importance of protecting your privacy and staying safe in a virtual world. What steps can you take to stay private and safe?

  • How are virtual worlds places for marketers to sell virtually anything? How are products and brands tied into such sites, and what makes them such great arenas for selling stuff? How can you be a savvy consumer and not buy into the virtual hype?

Website details

Genre:Virtual Worlds
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Second Life was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bylunag126 April 28, 2013
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

This game ruined my life, and quite possibly will ruin yours.

When I was 11, I was a lost soul. I had no friends, had depression, low self esteem, and was one of those mature looking, but inside very impressionable kids. One day I was browsing the Internet and came across this website, "Second Life." it looked like everything I had hoped for. New beginnings. A chance to be a pretty, sociable girl. Only problem? It was for 18+ only. I didn't think much of lying about my age. After all, I wasn't academically stupid and knew how to accurately portray an eighteen year old. Well, that was one of the most regrettable mistakes I've made. Ever. By the time I was eleven, I'd become a potty-mouthed, stupid, shopaholic, cybering addict who was failing all of her classes because she spent several hours a day chatting with shallow friends. I'm ashamed. That game is lime crack. It doesn't solve anything and does nothing but wreck you from the inside out. And, the horrifying thing is; I can't get off of this website, it's so boring, but so horrifyingly addicting. I'm only 13, and I feel as if I'm on a doomed road. I've told my parents about this and they've uninstalled it from my computer, but I know how to work a computer and how to hide the application from my parents. TL;DR-do not touch this game. It ruins lives.
Adult Written byCedric_Cross August 13, 2011
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

Immorality? In MY Secondlife? Deal with it.

Okay.... Why are children posting about this game? Well, no, not game, but still. Second life Has been an 18+ game for 8 years now. And yeah, there are a lot of horrible things on it. I know. I'm a user of three years now. And a developer. It's a little thing called common sense, people. When you create a sandbox environment like this, you can only expect people to do things like that. It's the internet but fully interactive.... in 3D. You learn how to avoid its' bad places and whatnot. If you enjoy those places, and you're over 18, more power to you. But I will tell you all this. THat place has taught me more about coding and 3D modeling than any book or website ever has. In the three years I've played, I can now create fully functioning AI, model an entire character, animation and all, and more. There is a teen grid with heavy restrictions on creations for younger folks who want to still get in on the good side of SL and personally I would rather join that if it weren't for my already successful business in the mainland programs and houses. And yes, you spend money on it, it's a fully functioning economy parallel to earth's. You can actually survive in real life off of your earnings in it if you're any good. Too long didn't read? -NO KIDS, IT'S AN 18+ GAME. -IT GIVES FULLS CREATIVE TOOLS INCLUDING A LIGHTWEIGHT SCRIPTING LANGUAGE ANYONE CAN LEARN, EXPECT DISTURBING CREATIONS. -LEARN TO DODGE THIGNS YOU DON'T LIKE, IT'S STILL THE INTERNET. -IT WAS MEANT AS A SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT FOR THE CREATIVE. LEAVE IT AT THAT. thank you.
What other families should know
Educational value
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 9 years old April 10, 2011
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Same as most of my reviews

I spent a while on the game and its not bad if your a mature 12+ kid, just don't go into adult area by changing the settings to general, report bad users and it should be fine.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Educational value

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