The other day, Letterbox posted an infographic about how young people grow up with social media. This infographic tells, among other things, that of all children using Facebook, nearly 42% of them are 12 years or younger, even though the sign-up age is 13. That’s about 5 million children. These children are growing up in a world where even the farthest reaches of the globe can be accessible through the computer and information is only a click away.
Despite the advantages, the Internet can also be unsafe
Parents’ fear of strangers exploiting their children is reflected in the answers given. According to the infographic, 72% of the parents worry that their children are revealing inappropriate information to strangers. Without keeping a watchful eye on their childrens’ web usage, which 72% do, it can be hard to keep completely updated on which sites are visited. Only half of the parents have installed parental controls on their computers, letting them fully control what is accessed on the Internet.
But wouldn’t it be nice if the children could visit a website and chat with other children, without worrying about who your children talks to and what they’re saying? So thought we. And when we made our Mingoville virtual world, where children can chat with other children from across the globe, this was something that required much planning.
The solution we came up with was our Safe English Chat. This system allows the children to communicate, using only pre-approved words. Names aren’t in the database, neither are numbers. Certain combinations of words aren’t shown. If you try to write a word that doesn’t exist in the database, it shows up in red in your text field and won’t be sent.
In a single stroke, the amount of inappropriate information being accidentally sent back and forth is eliminated. And if the child isn’t comfortable writing on its own, it can use several pre-defined phrases and sentences. Using the build-in dictionary, the children can pick phrases from ten different categories, like Numbers and letters and Sports and media. This ensures that the language and content discussed in the virtual world is completely safe and without inappropriateness.
If a word doesn’t exist in the database, we get a notice. In case it’s a word we’ve overlooked, it gets added to the approved list.
This system works and we’ve run Mingoville virtual world for four years where the safety and wellbeing of our young users were in the forefront.
We’re still working on Mingoville, improving it and making new features. Our ambition when we started is the same as it is now: Creating a safe game world where children can learn English alone or with others, having fun while they are doing so.
If you haven’t already done so, sign up for a free trial on Mingoville.com!