What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Nickelodeon has built a safe virtual community for kids to hang out in. Kids are asked to submit a parent's email address to notify mom or dad that their child has registered for the site (however, no approval is necessary to enter the site). Users can choose to chat with other registered users or only talk to people on their buddy list. Kids can't type in swear words or other offensive language -- terms must be recognized by the site's Club dictionary to appear on screen. However, kids are notorious for finding ways to evade language filters, so parents should discuss chatting options with their kids and choose chat using pre-written messages selected from a pull-down menu if there are any concerns.
Is it any good?
THE CLUB, the Nickelodeon virtual community/playground (previously called Nicktropolis) that allows kids to interact with each other in real time, has all the trappings of kids' entertainment -- games, video, and cute customizable avatars. But the site was clearly designed to offer a safe place for kids to do what they love best: hang out and talk to each other. Posts are approved before going live, and chat conversations can only include pre-approved terms.
Naturally, the site has a commercial bent -- after all, one of its main goals is to promote Nick's popular shows. However, although there are lots of references to iCarly and SpongeBob, plus plugs for other companies (like Lucky Charms cereal), the site is noticeably devoid of much Nick-themed merchandise -- which gives kids the opportunity to focus on watching video clips, gabbing, and playing games.
Online interaction: Due to strong site controls, kids' interactions on the site are safe, though some kids find ways to push the limits of the safeguards.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about online safety -- and what's appropriate to share on a website. What kind of information should you always keep private? How can you apply the social skills you've learned in a virtual world to life offline? How are relationships created online different and similar to those created face-to-face?
How can kids deal with bullying or other unwanted behavior they encounter online?