webkinz.. a safe childhood memory?

Okay, so my sister was talking to me about webkinz, which for those of you unfamiliar are basically Beanie Babies that have a code connected with them that you can log online and connect with other webkinz users.  At first, I thought that it was a cool idea, but then I started thinking about the danger this could impose to kids using this online feature.  My cousin is 5 and he has a webkinz that he actively goes online with and joins different ‘playrooms’ where they can interact with other kids.

The issue that I saw with this, is as i mentioned my sister (who is 20) brought this up because her and her college friends had bought two and would go online and just mess around with the online features.  While she was doing this she came across a couple questionable characters, such as kunt** (i took out the numbers just for anonymity), which i think its offensiveness and maturity can easily be seen to us as adults but to a 7 year old wouldnt draw any red flags.  Although the functions of the online play world limits users to certain phrases and questions like, “What is your favorite color?” i feel as if it got into the right hands it could be used for misconduct.

in my opinion, i think it is opening up children to this online world way too early.  Do you think that there should be certain regulations to the age of online users? Not to say that there aren’t some computer programs that completely children-friendly and dont allow any communication among users, but once that door is opened do you think that we are opening the door to possible online predators?   Do you think this is a good idea for kids to be using?

Or are any of you on the side of David Williams, who claims in his recent column that “Kids won’t know the world without Web”?  Do you really think it has become such a facet that it should be used at such an early age for gaming?

gaming addiction: good or bad?

So my older brother (who happens to be a pretty involved World of Warcraft) found this speech by Jane McGonigal about gaming addictions.  It is pretty interesting to hear some of the facts and her interpretations and views on them.

Does anyone think that her theories actually seem realistic ways of assessing real-life situations?

Just thought it would be interesting for some people to see more studies on gaming and just how much it can become a regular facet of people’s everyday lives.

Oh and just an interesting tidbit that grabbed my attention: Humanity has spent 6 million man-years playing World of Warcraft!!

Facebook used as grounds for suspension..

I am sure most people are enjoying their spring breaks, but with my vacay not starting until tomorrow I was reading over the local news and found a story regarding a boy in Oak Forest who made a facebook group expressing his negative feelings on a teacher for other students to join and post on.  No posts were made, but the group did receive 50 fans.  On February 14th the student deleted the page only to be called into the principals office on February 15th and was suspended for five days.  The student was on high-honors and has never had any disciplinary issues in the past, but this will now appear on his records.

For me, this is getting way too close, if not crossing the line of Freedom of Speech by the student.  Do you think that the student has the right to express his views via Facebook or that this is something that could be grounds for lible or defamation of the teacher?

Another major issue with this case is the growing trend of schools extending their reach of discipline to the students at home.  Since this was done out of school and not on school grounds whatsoever, does the school even have the grounds to be addressing this activity?   Do you think Facebook can be used as grounds for discipline in school-related scenarios?  What is the major difference between this and a teacher posting a status that refers to their students in a negative light?  Should that be something that a school/university has the right to monitor?

Killer Whale Video or Virus?

I was reading the news regarding the recent death of Dawn Brancheau, the killer-whale trainer from Orlando and came across an interesting article discussing the live footage of the attack that is going to be released online.  Regardless of the fact that just seems completely heartless and inappropriate (similar to the Steve Irwin sting ray attack video that was banned from being shared) it also shed light on the door it opens to online virus attacks. 

 The article shed light on the increased interest in finding that footage and how it opens the door to online hackers who use this opportunity to spread viruses through videos that are actively being downloaded and searched for.  

I have a few questions regarding this.. first of all, do you think that it is right to post the video online?  What good is coming out of that or what do you think is the purpose of doing that, besides public interest.  Do you think that the amount of harm such footage could cause to her family and friends outweighs any reason to post it on there?  And to play the other side, do you think that the public has the right to see it to make them aware of the harm this animal can cause? (because the name KILLER whale is indicating enough)

And as far as the viruses that this enables people to be vulnerable to do you think there are any other ways of helping secure people’s computer safety other than the tips this article lists.  And as an online user do you think people exposed to the virus have the duty to inform other users to help prevent future harm?

Facebook Applications

I was on facebook this morning and on my newsfeed noticed lots of Farmville/Fishville or whatever __ville application updates and it reminded me of how when you add or access an application on Facebook it will ask for your permission to view your profile/account information. My main question is what is that information being used for? I would assume it is marketing, but as far as privacy is concerned should those who choose to partake in these applications be concerned that their private information is being sent out to third party sources?