Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Pico Survival Guide for Parents

Attention parents: this is what your children are doing in Pico when you leave the room.
Warning: this video contains Pico players role playing adult sexual situations. It's not suitable for viewers under 14 years of age.

I know that the Parent Friendly Guide set your mind at ease, but the truth of the matter is that your kids are brats ... and they are cybersexing in an extremely lame way.

Peggy and I have been laughing about this video for hours now and she's insisted that I publish it. However, I feel like it should appear with our own cautionary guide for parents.

The Pico Survival Guide for Parents

The internet is a wonderful place to keep in touch with friends and family, find useful information and be entertained. However, it can also be a perilous place for young, impressionable minds. We're all aware of stories from our local news media of children who have fallen victim to being lured on the internet.

Your child's safety and well-being depends on setting clear rules for internet usage in your household ... and actually following through with consequences when boundaries are not followed.

Pico is intended for people aged 13 and older. But there are many of those who are much younger playing around in the social avatar chat.

The reality is that, though Pico chat has a built-in profanity filter, there's not much moderation going on. There are no players designated as Moderators that move from room to room that I've ever seen.

Do you know what your child is up to in Pico?
  • Place the computer your child is using in an open area of your home. This makes it easy for you to have visual access to the computer monitor and your child is less likely to participate in questionable activities if he/she knows that their parent(s) can see what they're up to.
  • Have a conversation about internet safety. Talk to your child about sexual victimization and potential online dangers to equip him/her with the awareness needed to keep safe. The basic rules ...
    1. Never reveal personal information, such as name, address, phone number, school name or location. Use only a screen name.
    2. Never agree to meet anyone from a chat room in person.
    3. Never exchange personal photographs via mail, file-sharing or email with someone you meet online.
    4. Never respond to a threatening email or message. Ignore.
    5. Tell a parent about any conversation or messages that cause you to feel uncomfortable or threatened.
      Note: as a parent, stay calm. If you “freak out” your kids won’t turn to you for help when they need it.
    6. Introduce your parent(s) to any new friends that you're spending lots of time with online.
  • Know what Pico is all about. Don't just know about it ... know it. Sign up for an account and play. Look around so you have a deeper understanding of the type of environment (benefits and shortcomings) that is attracting your child to be actively involved in.
    • Become computer literate and learn how to block objectionable material.
    • Spend time online together to teach your kids appropriate online behavior.
  • Set clear boundaries. Your child's ability to continue using Pico should depend on them (A) giving you their login information so that you can regularly log into their account to check their activities or (B) adding you as a friend (yes, this means creating your own Pico account) so that you can warp to them at any time and see what they're up to. Not adhering to the rules must result in a loss in the privilege of using the family computer.
  • Talk about what's going on in Pico. Just as you would with school or social activities, regularly discussions with your child about what they've been up to in Pico. This can be a valuable way to teach your kids to problem-solve and to recognize abusive situations.
  • Report questionable behavior. Vulgarity, bullying and harassment, racial slurs and other questionable conversation content should be reported. For info on how to report someone, click here.
    • The developers should have a 'Report' button on each person's profile to make it easy to get help. If you feel strongly about this, email CyberAgent Inc. and let them know how you feel.
Alright. It's time to come down off of my soap box ... and watch that video for a couple more laughs.

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