The Federal Trade Commission has issued a consumer alert designed to warn parents about the risks their children may face while gaming online.
The alert, Virtual Worlds and Kids: Mapping the Risks, contains the following advice:
According to the [FTC] many virtual worlds say they’re for adults only and try to verify that visitors are over 18 before they can enter. But a posted age requirement may not stop kids — especially curious teens — from finding their way in, either accidentally or otherwise...
If your child gets really interested in online gaming or virtual worlds, watch for changes in their patterns of behavior that could indicate an unhealthy obsession. Nobody knows your child better than you do, so you’re best placed to know what sites may be appropriate for your child.
For more online safety information, the FTC refers parents to OnGuardOnline.gov.