Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pavlik Morozov and Club Penguin

If you have kids between the ages of say six and thirteen, you have probably heard of Club Penguin. It is the new hot thing - an online community of "penguins" where you can play games, meet friends, decorate your igloo, dress your penguin, etc... Of course, as a parent, one of the things you worry about is online predators. When dealing with kids this young, how do you balance allowing them to have fun, yet making sure they don't give out any kind of identifying information or engage in inappropriate conversations with strangers?

If you didn't grow up in the Soviet Union, you most likely have not heard of Pavlik Morozov. He was a little boy who supposedly denounced his father as an enemy of the State and was killed by the family in retribution. Though the whole story was contrived, he became a martyr in the Soviet propaganda machine. The reason why I bring him up is because when my son went on Club Penguin last night he was asked if he wanted to join the "Secret Agent Penguins", whose job it is to silently report other penguins to the moderators for certain kinds of violations, such as phishing(no pun intended) for identities, etc... The Secret Agent Penguins get a special Spy Phone to report the violators and they get special perks such as hanging out with other Special Agents.

I don't know why this freaks me out. On the one hand it addresses one of my main concerns about the security of my kids. On the other hand, I think there is something wrong with getting kids to spy on other kids and getting rewarded for this, especially by creating a privileged "class" of kids who became privileged by spying on others, a mini KGB of sorts.


Blogger Miri said...

wow that's creepy.

September 26, 2007 11:16 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Cultural revolution practises. Denounce your parents, denounce your teachers, denounce your neigbors.

Enjoy singing songs about glorious chaiman Mao, and getting extra rice for denunciations.

September 26, 2007 3:15 PM  

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