Illinois Congressman Sees Threat to Children in Second Life

May 6, 2008 -
Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has called upon the Federal Trade Commission to issue an alert regarding what he says is a potential risk to children who play the popular online game Second Life

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, Kirk said:
If you ask: Do you know about MySpace? The average parent will say yes. But the average parent doesn't know anything about Second Life...

Sites like Second Life offer no protections to keep kids from virtual "rape rooms," brothels, and drug stores. If sites like Second Life won't protect kids from obviously inappropriate content, the Congress will.

Mt. Prospect, Illinois Mayor Irvana Wilks echoed Kirk's concerns:
This Second Life is a new scare, unchartered territory. It hits home.

GP: We note that Rep. Kirk is currently running for re-election.

UPDATE: News.com has more...

Comments

@Gelmax

Exactly.

Giving a gentle warning about what's on there = good

Trying to have Linden Labs incarcerated = bad

Well, if the computers were in fact theirs, why would they put an internet filter on their computer that did not have an option to allow individual filtering either by username or through a password system like Norton Internet Security?

Now, if these are computers that they did not own, well, then they need to speak to whomever does own the computers which is most likely their parents.

Wait...people still play Second Life?

OMG! The evilz! The Internet is nothing but a safety hazard for children! The only people playing Second Life are idiots, child molestors and furries! KEEP OFF THE INTERNET! This message brought to you by:

C-itizens U-nited N-egating T-echnology (for life and peoples' safety)

@Gelmax:

I have the PERFECT internet filter. Works without fail. Seriously- it annoys the crap out of my 16 year old, but it keeps him off questionable Web sites 100% of the time.

I put his computer in the living room.

You know what I find funny? Some of you are saying kids do play Second Life and stuff, whatever. Like Gelmax. Okay, so they play it? By the time I was 14, I was already on the internet and looking at porn. Which is worse, Second Life, or porn (though from what I've heard, they're probably about the same). And, not really making an argument with it, but: "Second Life is the only MMO where you can actually purchase or even make virtual genitals for the purpose of cybersex." The way I see it, is if you do that, you lack imagination and creativity. I was looking at porn since before I was 18 for at least a few years, and I turned out fine.

Besides, the only way it's really a threat is if your kid is stupid enough to give out any personal information.

I'm not saying a warning about what on there is bad, but a lot of this "threat" is blown way out of proportion.

Fear the unknown! OMG you can meet strangers online! Everyone wants your booty cause you are so young and we can all see you age just by looking at you trough our monitor!! OMG STRANGER DANGER STRANGER DANGER!!1!!! They may tell your child bad words so he teaches other kids the words at school. OMG when your child is online he has no friends cause he is addicted to games and is planning to kill the whole school!! MAYBE HE LISTENS TO MARILYN MANSON!!! OMG

@Saint13,

Quite franckly, there is no need for an internet filter ever.

Exelent one you found there, too.

He is a little late on the uptake. That would be like a European in the old times asking that there is a country across the ocean when everyone has known about it for a hundred of years. If people like him ran history, we would still be in the dark ages. What a weakling! Fear of the unknown?Learn about it or be doomed to repeat history. Maybe someone should show him the book 1984

GP. What do you think is more dangerous for kids, I.m. or video games? I would like to point out the show "To Catch a Preditor."

It sounds so dangerous. It's a good thing our kids are playing Grand Theft Auto. :)

is there an explanation of why they think its so dangerous? do kids even play Second Life?

@Andy

If they have terrible taste.

I totally agree with this guy. I played second life a few times last year and showed it to my sister. She totally ate it up, she was about 15 at the time. I got bored and quit playing, she didn't. A few weeks passed and I decided to go up and see what my sister was doing. She was playing Second Life of course, and she was working at her "job." She was a prostitute. she worked at a club island where she would have digital "relations" with other players. Immediately after seeing this I deleted the game and blocked all links to the website. She got angry at first, but doesn't miss the game at all now. It needs to be stopped, or at least censored.

@Sam

It needs to be stopped or censored because your sister overindulged? ...I think my point is obvious enough.

Most kids don't even know what Second Life is! In fact, does ANYONE go on Second Life?

@SAM

There was a study saying that most people in second life usually create their character after themselves. That tells me that you should ask you sister some questions about why she choice to be a prostitute on the game in the first place. Video games portray real life most of the time, not the other way around.

Second life is actually mostly porn.

Therefore, I agree.

@DJ Sessum

Hell, I didn't know what it was until about a month ago.

I've never played Second Life, but upon reading what some GP Readers have to say about the game, I would have to agree that the game should at the very least be better policed. Unfortunately, there are a very small minority of "Gamers" out there who think that using the ability to create custom player content in a game means pollute the atmosphere with the most perverse, disgusting content imaginable. Even worse is that a game like Second Life draws them all into a small community where the problem multiplies. If we are going to allow things like that to happen, Sony needs to do a better job with Age Verification and prevent children from coming in contact with those, for a lack of a better word, "Freaks." I'm usually pretty liberal on the morality side of things. Im not offended by mainstream pornography, homosexuality, violence, or things of that nature, but when things that make me uncomfortable, like Furries, Fringe Porn, Underage Sex, are exposed to children, I've got to draw a line..

@DJ Sessum

/sarcasm

Only those who can't hack it in decent games

/sarcasm off

now seriously, I know a couple people who play it, and enjoy it, once again, like I have seen for multiple online games, for the "social atmosphere". That said, Second Life is quite honestly about as appealing to me as having salt crystals shoved under each of my toenails.

Well played Saint13. It's what my parents did.

@Valdearg

Anonimity(sp?) breeds assholes.

@Valdearg

It's obvious you haven't played it now.

A child would need to lie about their age to get onto the Second Life main grid where all of the adult stuff is, and if found out they're banned pretty fast. And anyone who wishes to avoid adult content on the main grid can, easily.

@Sam

Sorry to hear about what your sister did dude. at least you put a stop to it, but that begs the question, were your parents even watching he online activities?

The only people who should be censoring/monitoring content on a computer is the computer's owner, typically the parents.

@GRIZZAM 512

The internet fuckwad theory in practice.

@ kurisu7885

However, if they aren't found out and wish to access those areas, they could easily do so. Believe me, its not difficult to lie to anybody about your age. I was 19 from the time I was 15 to when the day before I turned 20, according anyone I played games with. I learned early on that If I misrepresented my age, people wouldn't form false opinions about your maturity level.

@Valdearg

Well, in that case, then where are the parents in all this?

I know there are tech savvy kids who know how to hide their tracks, which means, honestly, parents need to wise the hell up and learn a few things about basic computer use.

I logged on to see what it (a second life) was all about and after about 10 minutes i fell sound asleep. It is about as watching grass grow.

I would say that the dweeb from Illinois has never looked at it and it simply trying to make noise so someone might notice him. Hello???

With a name like Kirk, it's no wonder he sounds like he's from outer space.

DJ Sessum, Satch: Plenty of people go on Second Life. It isn't particularly popular among conventional gamers or MMO addicts, but it has a significant appeal to bored kids (you can complain all you like about it being boring, but content creation is still a whole lot less repetitive than your average MMO, and that's a major draw of Second Life), and real-world companies (who hear about a "virtual world" and immediately seek to establish a presence there). Just because YOU don't like it doesn't mean it's irrelevant.

Valdearg: Actually, the pornographic content is the OTHER major draw of Second Life - niche communities, such as furries, love the place, and are probably one of the biggest sources of income. The reason for the divide between Second Life and Teen Second Life is probably because there are a LOT of users who play SL - and spend money on SL - for the sake of adult content, but Linden didn't want to exclude minors completely, so they made TSL as a compromise...but since there's no real age verification, the choice between SL and TSL has more to do with what kind of content you want to see than what your actual age is.

Kurisu: "Well, she SAID she was over 18" is not a defense in a wide variety of things, including but not limited to the distribution of content the government has deemed unsuitable for minors - if you don't do real age verification, then legally it's your fault there's kids on your servers. If it doesn't seem like it to you, then that's mainly because the vast majority of the internet mostly or completely ignores pornography law (and I'd guess that most users don't even know the particulars of applicable laws at all), and the reason there hasn't been any major fuss is because even the US government knows better than to seriously try to police the internet. Additionally, you should note that all Representative Kirk is doing is trying to INFORM PARENTS about this kind of stuff - he IS NOT TRYING TO BAN SECOND LIFE OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. I'm a gamer too, but the reason the media doesn't listen to us is because we tend to go for kneejerk reactions like yours whenever someone dares to insult the honor of our favorite game. A few years ago, people used to intelligently refute claims that the GTA series was responsible for violent crimes, but after a few years of Jack Thompson, the gamer community just labels anyone who raises those concerns an idiot and doesn't bother to actually address those concerns.

@Gelmax

sorry if I came across as a kneejerk, course, it's kind of hard to remain partial after being attacked for so long

I'm still amused that he thinks most parents know what Myspace is. WAY too much credit to parents, in my experience. Unless they, you know, have their own online lives or make a pointed effort to be involved in their kids' lives, they're generally shockingly clueless.

Well it isn't exactly child friendly, flying dicks, virtual prostitution, sex animation business, nudity,

lol you SHOULD be scared if your kid is playing Second Life!

LULZ No one plays second life.

"If you ask: Do you know about MySpace? The average parent will say yes. But the average parent doesn’t know anything about Second Life."

The maybe they should make it their buisness to know. You know, like a goddamn PARENT.

How can parents not know their kid plays second life? Doesn't it cost money? Unless the kid has a credit card won't the parents find out...

Alright, this is coming from a person that's been in Second Life since December 2003. I can say that I agree in some ways, but again, this comment is so vague that it could encompass just about anything. So, I'll put in my view on this.

Children should only be allowed, if over the age of 13, into the Teenage/PG portion of the Second Life world. They would do so with parental knowledge, and Linden Labs is...well, they're decent when it comes to keeping the PG areas clean. So it's not "uncharted" or "scary" because it's still got that good seperation.

Now, with that in mind, its the same idea of kids playing M rated games. The sign-up process is based pretty much on an honesty system. Most anywhere you can put in fake info, a fake age, and get access as an adult even if you aren't. I have a few friends in Second Life that are 16-18. But they also are mature enough to know what's going on and understand it.

As I sit here and think through all the different things in Second Life that could potentially be bad (Gor, Midian/Toxian, BDSM playground, etc etc) none of them are so horrific that they would even phase people. I've never went anywhere and went "Oh damn, I shouldn't be here, this is just wrong". I'm not sure that the locations and the things involved at said locations are the problem. The only real problem I can imagine is kids taking their parents' credit cards and spending their money on these virtual products.

Again, to argue FOR Second Life, it promotes how it is open source, and allows for an infinite number of possibilities. Kids and teens with a great amount of creativity should be allowed to build their own ideas. Anyone else here grow up playing with legos? I don't think you can consider that there is an unknown evil inside of Second Life any more than you can consider there is an unknown evil inside of anything else that ever existed.

And I'm spent.

~Ben

Second Life is a 3d virtual combination of Lego, DeviantArt, IRC, 4Chan and EBay.

That said; Yay, another politician jumping for a digital scapegoat.

@jes

That may be the simplest and most accurate explanation I've ever seen.

@Jes

The 4chan part only is there because its one of the easiest games to grief in your own custom way. Still, I'd take out Ebay and make it Amazon. Then, you've hit it on the head.

@Poppo

HA HA!!!

@Gelmax

One person’s blocker went so far as to actually censor anything they typed, actually removing curse words from messages sent via IM; the other’s bans an extremely wide variety of sites, including not the major internet humor communities (such as ##### and Something Awful), but Youtube and Google Image Search as well (not to mention a wide variety of other useful sites)!


@-Jes-

Second Life is a 3d virtual combination of Lego, DeviantArt, IRC, ##### and EBay.


@Ben Ambroso

The ##### part only is there because its one of the easiest games to grief in your own custom way.


Rule Number One: In no way shalt thou speaketh of the Asshole Of The Internet.

JUST KIDDING!!!

It's not as though you log into SL and BAM! FLYING PENIS EVERYWHERE. That's just another tired old exaggeration.

Basically, SL was not -ever- meant to BE a game. It's a world engine that's designed to be insanely customizable. Think of it as the 3d video version of AOL chatrooms, and you're about on the money. Yes, some weird stuff goes on in places, but it's largely confined to its own spaces, much like it was largely so back in the AOL Chatrooms days.

@kurisu7885:
Dude my mom doesn't even know how to turn the PC on, it was totally my fault that she got that into it in the first place, but back then I didn't even know there were islands like that in the game, I didn't know it was filled with so much scum.

Though I have not played second life, From some of the posts here about second life like the British memorial that was made, I think it is obvious that second life is not porn. It is an open source community that possibilities are endless. Of course you will get some bad with the good but that is happens in real life too. That does not mean you associate the bad with the intended purpose of the activity.

Sam: I would not necessarily blame second life for your sisters actions. The fact that her character was a virtual prostitute might be that she is exploring her sexuality with out actually doing it. She might be curious and want top know more about sexuality. I was too at my age but I merely looked up info. She should have a gentile, open-minded discussion with someone she trusts like a consoler or a close adult. She be having problems at school or in life and she is seeking an escapism to forget about it.
 
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