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1. Brian 'Psychochild' Green - July 13, 2010

As a developer, let me give a hearty “thank you” for teaching your daughter about responsibility in online games. It sounds like you do a great job of warning her about the dangers without descending into hysterics.

One of the biggest fans of Meridian 59 had kids that he wouldn’t let play the game because he didn’t think it was appropriate. Sure, I missed out on some monthly fees, but I though it was the responsible thing for him to do as a parent.

I hope all parents take such an active stance on the online behavior of their kids. I applaud you, sir, and truly hope that a few tears now save what could be more tears later.

2. Gallaria - July 13, 2010

Congrats Wilhelm!

3. mbp - July 13, 2010

Tough Love Wilhelm, I am impressed.

We had our own mini brush with privacy in the new interconnected world. After much pestering my nine year old was allowed to buy a mobile phone with her own money (I know I know but “every else has one ….”).

A couple of months later we noticed that she was getting odd text messages. Just a simple “Hello” but always from the same number, often several texts a day and often at odd times in the middle of the night. None of us recognised the number and attempts to ring or text the person to find out who it was were never answered. I even contacted the phone company to try to get it stopped but while they were sympathetic they didn’t actually do anything. On questioning my daughter confessed to having shared her phone number with everyone in her class.

We confiscated the phone but I am not as tough as you Wilhelm. I gave in after a month and returned the phone with a replacement sim card (new phone number).

4. zelmaru - July 13, 2010

Wow, I have a lot to look forward to! Yay? I’m glad I’m not the only one planning to keep the computer in the family room. That Club Penguin customer service/security model is pretty scary.

I feel like you did the right thing by not restoring the original account. Today it’s Club Penguin, but tomorrow it could be a stalker. A powerful “DO NOT SHARE” lesson now will go a long way later. After all, once you share, you cannot “un-share”.

5. Sleepysam - July 13, 2010

Excellent post. Not looking forward to my kids become internet savvy in the big bad real world.

6. Fuzzy - July 13, 2010

That is one scary message to log on to!

And kudos to the Club Penguin staff for actually providing details on what led up to the ban. I only wish Turbine did that for my account, after they banned me for 3 days on DDO due to “inappropriate language” that I have no recollection of.

7. Green Armadillo - July 13, 2010

“I fear the day when my daughter discovers just how easy it is to create a fresh Yahoo or Gmail account.”

I take it she doesn’t read the blog?

8. Rachycake - July 13, 2010

Hi,
I think you deserve a lot of respect for what you did, teaching your daughter the responsibility of privacy and sticking to the rules can’t have been easy for you/on you, but you did it all the same. It terrifys me the sorts of information you can get about people, accounts and goodness knows what else, just from a simple call or email. Proving you are or aren’t some one is very difficult these days, so I was suprised to read that club penguin people decided you were her parent instantly!

Thank you for an informative post! While it scares the poop out of me for what it will be like when my son is old enough to game etc, it also stands as a warning for things we must teach him!

9. elleseven - July 13, 2010

My daughter also got perma banned from Club Penguin. My biggest problem was that the first 2 warnings were given in game to her and not to my email. So when the banning email came to me I had no prior knowledge of the reason. I contacted them and they sent me the log of what when down. For starters the context of my daughters first to warnings were her defending herself. I think the first was “jerk” and the second time was “a-hole” which she typed “a-hole” Given the context of what was going on I actually think she was justified standing up for herself. So she had the 2 warnings over a long period of time and did not tell me of course. So she tried to clean up her language and used “wtf” The “wtf” got her the permaban. Although I don’t agree with banning over “wtf” ( we hear it daily in our culture now) and I disagree totally with parents not being emailed over any warnings, I didn’t fight it. I call it the school of hard knocks. She didn’t follow their rules and got busted. Whether you agree with the rules or not you must obey when in their “world”. I figure we had over $100 invested in that game..c’est la vie.

10. sid67 - July 13, 2010

I appreciate your action has consequences approach to parenting.

Although, that said, it does somewhat prove a point that perhaps an 8 year-old shouldn’t be entrusted with “account security” in the first place.

As seen in your example, even with proper parenting and education, your daughter still gave away account information and still violated your rules regarding privacy.

It’s not that I think you could have done more to prevent it. It’s that I think perhaps any 8-year old would do the same things your daughter did provided sufficient motivation (getting the item/loss of account/friend pressure at school).

Which begs the question, at what age should children be entrusted with their own safety on the internet?

I don’t really have a good answer to that one. My daughter is 9 years old and we tend to practice avoidance. Which I’m not convinced is a good solution either — after all, with avoidance comes no experience.

11. welshtroll - July 13, 2010

A great post that really gets someone like me thinking about what we’ll do when the time comes for our youngster to start finding their feet in the real world and the virtual world.

Thanks for taking the time to relate it to us.

12. Bhagpuss - July 13, 2010

Excellent post. Club Penguin’s security certainly needs some work.

My step-kids, now all grown and out of the nest, showed virtually no interest at all in gaming, either on or offline, while they were growing up. They all three abandoned consoles by the time they were in their low teens and only one ever even tried online gaming, for about a year in a pretty disinterested, offhand way.

It would have been nice if we’d all got into playing as a family (we’d have made virtually a full group for a start…) but on balance, given the problems that could have arisen I’m quite glad they all thought gaming was a bit beneath them.

13. HarbingerZero - July 14, 2010

Bravo TAGN, Bravo.

14. Alex - July 14, 2010

Yeah, good choice on the account ban. Today your dealing with just a Club Penguin account but tomorrow you could be dealing with a WoW account loss loaded with time investment and sparkle ponies if such lesson is not learned.

15. A cautionary tale of account security in Club Penguin - Be The Gamer - July 14, 2010

[...] of parents to teach their kids how to be safe in games. The Ancient Gaming Noob's Wilhelm recently shared a cautionary tale involving his daughter, Club Penguin, and a breach of account security. Even though she was [...]

16. Beau - July 14, 2010

For me, the main area of concern is this: “It is supposed to be a parental email address, but I am sure kids skirt that issue regularly. I fear the day when my daughter discovers just how easy it is to create a fresh Yahoo or Gmail account.”

Like I mentioned on our show, I know one single parent out of the dozen that I know well that actually locks down the internet. You have to have a password to log on and a password to visit any single page, no matter the security level.

While Wil did react in an admirable way, most security issues or problems arise when the child simply has free access. My friend, the one that locks down her internet, is a mom to a 15 and an 8 year old. She knows that, even if by accident, a child can stumble upon some very scary things online.

The internet is not a toy, and should be used very responsibly. I am not claiming that Wil *let* his daughter have free reign, but I think we all know someone who has kids who spend most of their time online inside their room.

So yes, while Penguin’s ease with handing out information can be seen as slightly scary, remember that the entire issue first came up because of the misuse of the internet by the player. Curious, if by example, the child was not even permitted to sign on at all, but instead had to wait in the other room while the parent signed her on.

Yes, I know some will tell me that is “unrealistic”, but I don’t see why it is. After all, it’s a simple step that will no longer allow a child that has shown that she might make a poor choice online that she can no longer have access without full security.

17. Xyd - July 16, 2010

Nice post, and congrats on the way you handled it. Those days are coming my way soon – my daughter is now nearing 5, my son 3, and they both know how to surf the web than I did at their age. (Well, okay I was 4 in 1968. But I digress…) I hope my future self has the presence of mind you did in this situation.

It’s a shame there isn’t a governing body of some sort that could establish rules around stupidity and enforcement of random rules with regard to kids’ sites. “You need a parent email address to sign up but we won’t use it before we ban you”. Classic.

BTW, do you remember the mid-90′s when my ISP – the whole damn ISP – was perma-banned from Sojourn? I switched ISP’s over that! Maybe Mystra runs Club Penguin! ;-)

18. saraapril - July 19, 2010

I know my Parents would have done Exactly like you did! I wish Club Penguin had notified you so your daughter could get help BEFORE she got Banned Forever! But I wonder one thing why didn’t she ask for your help as soon she got the first 24 hours Banned?

19. Wilhelm2451 - July 19, 2010

@Saraapril – My daughter ebbs and flows on Club Penguin. She’ll play for a month or two, then not touch it for weeks at a stretch. The whole ban scenario happened during an inactive period.

20. Matthew - July 20, 2010

Please know that there is a much better youth site called http://www.xeko.com. (pronounced zeeko). The kids play on Elf Island, where they create an Elf avatar, create a home & clothing similar to Club P. The biggest difference is that Xeko is a champion for helping endangered animals. Kids play monthly Good Quests and the more they game, the more money the company contributes to helping the animal. This month’s Goodquest is to help sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico, as funds are contributed to the Audubon Aguarium in New Orleans to clean and transplant these endangered animals. You can get a free one month membership if you redeem the code “sea turtle”. Your child will “adopt” this creature and will learn about its habitat and how to care for it. It will follow them around in the game for three months, at which point it is released into a sanctuary. Kids can come back and call them up later. The company has several animals including Chimps, Snow Leopards, Elephants, Tigers. Kids can buy the plush animals at Justice stores across the U.S. It is fun and dare I say educational. In addition, Xeko has a chat feature like Club P, but your kids will not have any problems, as the chat contains an inclusive dictionary. This simply means that kids cannot type any words that are not contained in the dictionary. This eliminates swear words and profane acronyms & bullying. Parents need to confirm their email accounts.

I strongly suggest you check out http://www.xeko.com as a much better alternative to the Disney owned Club Penquin. The cost is the same. The founders and owners have a mission to help change the world through our kids. It promotes education and conservation while kids are having fun in the highly popular virtual world in which they like to play. They were also very concerned about making sure it was a safe environment and avoid the very problems associated with Club Penquin. Check it out and spread the word!

21. hph - September 29, 2010

I am so sad, why is XEKO closing???????????


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