Are Zynga and Fa$book’s YoVille poison for kids?

In the Kids and Kartels section of my former blog, p2pnet.net I wrote about the way in which the advertising and entertainment industries, in particular,  freely penetrate school classrooms (with the cooperation of teachers and admin staff) to not only turn the pupils into good little compliant consumers at the earliest possible age, but also pester parents into buying ‘ product’ or using ‘services’ they wouldn’t normally consider.

Because advertising to children is now huge, a multi, multi-billion-dollar bidniz.

My new blog,  Kids and Kartels (http://www.kidsandkartels.com/, expands on, the theme, sometimes drawing from existing p2pnet K&K  content

One of the most pernicious is Zynga, which uses Fa$ebook to target kids and troll for data and information which can be reused for hard-core marketing purposes.

Zynga’s YoVille “is a world where you can buy new clothes for your player, purchase items for your apartment, go to work, and meet new friends,’ says Facebook.

“It’s also a place where kids can pretend to get drunk and where they can be picked up by sexual predators”, said my daughter, a while back.

Later in 2009, “I’m getting all kinds of  Fa$ebook and Twitter messages to join various peoples’ Mafia families”, I posted continuing:

“Mafia Wars is from a company called Zynga. For me, there’s nothing amusing about the Mafia and there’s no way I’d join anything which bases itself on a deeply evil gang which depends for its existence on extortion and terror.”

Not only but also, “ ‘Zynga (the company that develops Mafia Wars) does not give a rats a** after injecting a spyware cookie into the game,’ says i_hate_zyng’s Reddit post, suggesting:

“ ‘Upvote and let the others know how a company can screw up your security for personal monetary gains’!”

And, “Hi, My Name Is Mike And I Was A FishVille Addict,” I quoted TechCrunch’s Mike as saying, going on >>>

“Social gaming addiction is a real problem. It may be a somewhat funny problem, but it’s still a problem. And it’s no wonder that kids without access to credit cards are taking all these sketchy offers to get game currency. They’re hooked.

“Arrington is a very wealthy lawyer who’s old enough to look after himself”, I noted, adding, “But what about the kids?”

Now, “Facebook and Zynga have just announced a five year partnership and the expansion of use of Facebook Credits in Zynga games” says TechCrunch, noting:

“After months of discord, Zynga and Facebook have made peace– at least for now. Despite Zynga’s earlier frustrations and reports that it was ready to abandon Facebook, the two companies were able to agree to a ‘five-year strategic relationship.’ ‘Facebook was a pioneer in opening their platform in 2007 and in just three years tens of millions of Facebook users play our games every day, from FarmVille and Café World to Treasure Isle and Mafia Wars,’ Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said in the press release.

‘We are excited about Facebook’s long-term commitment to social gaming and Zynga, and look forward to working with them and other platform providers to bring the best social gaming experience to users worldwide’.”

“YoVille is a world where you can buy new clothes for your player, purchase items for your apartment, go to work, and meet new friends,” says Facebook.

It’s also a place where kids can pretend to get drunk and where they can be picked up by sexual predators, says Emma Newton.

The application is social networking game for Facebook which, at 9:15 AM Pacific, was boasting 4,878,773 monthly active users.

Facebook says it provides links to applications “as a courtesy,” but makes, “no representations regarding the applications or any information related to them”.

We home school our daughter, Emma, and the Net is part of her life. It’s both an educational/research tool, and a way for her to hang out with friends online via a purpose-built home school application she uses all the time, together with other programmes.

I work online and I’ve spent hours  explaining the pit-falls and the ups and downs of the Net and I’m fine with letting her go online to do pretty well what she wants to do within the two hours she’s theoretically allowed.

I say theoretically because I’m not looking over her shoulder all the time and I expect her to log off when it’s time to log off.

In other words, I trust her.

Sometimes my wife and I worry she’s too fond of the Net. But it’s an integral part of life in the digital 21st century and will become even more so as she grows up.

But parents worry about everything. It’s their job.

So when she asked if she could join YoVille, explaining it was a kind of virtual world, I said Yes,  figuring if it was on Facebook, it couldn’t be too bad: that as mercenary as Facebook’s owners are, they’re not stupid enough to allow anything really offensive on the site.

Then last night, “Dad, can I do a post on Facebook for p2pnet?” – Emma, who’s 12, asked. Of course, I said. (As far as I and my wife, Liz, are concerned, writing this kind of thing is much the same as writing an essay in school, only better because it’s self-selected instead of imposed.)

So I logged on this morning and found the item below waiting for me — and I emphasise this is her own work written when I wasn’t around, and unedited by me.

I should also make it clear YoVille isn’t exclusively a Facebook application. It’s also on MySpace and for all I know, on other sites as well.

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THE REAL YOVILLE

Topics: Alchohol on YoVille / no age limit / pedophiles and people asking for “cam shows” / no chat filter / cyber bullying / Bikini bottoms are thongs / Gambling is encouraged.

YoVille is a world where you can buy new clothes for your player, purchase items for your apartment, go to work, and meet new friends,” says creator, Zynga. Sounds fun, and completly kid friendly right?

But to make a long story short, it’s anything BUT kid friendly! There is an extreme lack of a chat filter, allowing the “F Word” and others just as bad to be said freely, often in the presence of kids as young as 10!

Okay, so maybe they have a SMALL chat filter — IE  if you say the full word (shit, for example) it gets blanked out as “yadda”. But if you put a space in between any of the letters (s hit) it gets through.

I think there should at least be an age limit for it (18+?), given how it’s easy for sexual predators to lure victims in, giving them YoMoney and items in return for this.

I have come across several people (usually men) as old as 43 trying to get girls as young as 13 to role play sexual acts via the game, and give so-called “cam shows”.

These basically consist of you giving them your cam adress, and stripping on cam.

I myself have been asked more times than I can count. Whenever I got asked, I basically told the person involved to go jump off a cliff.

Feel like getting drunk? Just head down to the all ages  (The Sky Nightclub is a cool club that you can go to to buy drinks and snacks and look hip! “and grab a martini”! Because they make it so FUN to get drunk!

Or feeling lucky? Just head down to the Casino!

There is no age limit for this game, making it possible for people of any age to be on.

In the Dating section of the Events page, there are usually sex parties. I once even saw one called “14 and under sx party”.

It’s a breeding ground for pedophiles and the like. I think that it’s best if kids don’t go on it at all.

I hope that by writing this, parents who have kids on YoVille will take a closer look into whether or not they REALLY want their kid on this.Thanks for reading my rant ;)

Stay safe!

Emma Newton

Talk about an unholy collaboration.

But there is a solution for you AND your kids.

Just Say No to Fa$ebook.

Stay tuned.

Follow Kids and Kartels on Twitter.

 

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