We warn our children not to talk to strangers, but how do we protect them when there are online resources set up specifically for them to make new friends? Forbes has a thoughtful piece about Club Penguin, a social networking site for school-age children.
Successful sites like Club Penguin have made child safety a primary goal, and by most accounts, parents are comfortable letting their little Penguins roam about the Town. Penguins can “chat” with other penguins in two ways: by selecting pre-written phrases, especially useful for the spelling-challenged age group, or by upgrading to “Standard Safe Chat” which enables users to create their own messages but filters them to block inappropriate language or personal information.
Resources like the Family Online Safety Institute and Common Sense Media help families talk about rules to keep kids safe online. Just like you talk to kids about rules for crossing the street and making sure they are neither a bully or bullied, it is essential that families discuss the difference between online and real friends and the importance of keeping private information private.