p2pnet news | Advertising:- UK film producer and politician Lord Puttnam has issued a wake-up call to parents and others who may be becoming too complacent about children’s devotion to toy oriented websites.
Formerly David Puttnam of Chariots of Fire, Memphis Belle and The Killing Fields fame, he’s joined the ranks of people who are increasingly concerned about virtual worlds aimed at kids and the dangerous influence they can exert.Many firms are developing virtual worlds for children, “because young people were far more familiar with them than their parents,” the BBC has Stardoll founder Matthias Mikshe saying.
And according to Alice Taylor, commissioning editor for education at Channel 4, “It’s people of a certain age that talk about ‘going online’. Kids just say ‘I’m going to Habbo’.”
Speaking at the Virtual Worlds Forum held in London and slated to close today, Puttnam mentioned Webkinz, Funkeys, BarbieGirls, TyGirlz and other virtual worlds created and run by toy makers and which, “tie access to the virtual world to the purchase of a toy,” says the BBC.
“Are we absolutely sure that this is the very best we can offer young people?” he asked, going on:
Do we really want them to think of themselves as not much more than consumers?
Might we not prefer to build worlds that encourage those same values and skills we wish them to exercise in the real world?”
The challenge ahead is this – to ensure that virtual worlds are increasingly places that offer real meaning to their lives and in the real world to learn from the sense of community and collaboration that’s been experienced in virtual worlds.
Answering Puttnam, Mark Hansen, director of business development for Lego Universe, said children were very good at determining the underlying ethic of a virtual world.
“Is it positioned to sell more product or as an extended experience with the product they have already bought? Kids are very smart and will spot that really quickly.”
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