FTC studying minors in online games - Report

Federal lawyers scrutinizing access to adult content in MMO games for Congressional report due in December.

The last piece of gaming legislation seeking to limit minors' access to games was vetoed by the governor of Utah, but lawmakers haven't taken their eyes off of the issue of children and gaming entirely. According to a report on Virtual Worlds News, the Federal Trade Commission is set to deliver a report to Congress on the issue this December.

The FTC wants to find out if any kids are crashing this hot-tub party.

The study is intended to inform lawmakers on what types of content are accessible to minors in online worlds such as Habbo Hotel and Second Life, and what the operators of those worlds are doing to limit that access. The article suggests that the report will also include recommendations to Congress on how to address the issue.

The author of the article, Virtual Worlds News editor Joey Seiler, says he told the attorneys that the danger of virtual worlds relative to other online activities was "minimal," noting that age-verification steps can often be circumvented. And though that holds true for online games, it also is the case for hardcore pornography sites, and any other online destination inappropriate for children.

"That's not to say there aren't legitimate concerns and that more companies should follow [Second Life developer Linden Labs'] example and take proactive measures, but I think I'm right that the danger of virtual worlds is minimal compared to other online properties," Seiler said.

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Discussion

21 comments
Talus057
Talus057

I see what you guys are saying, but it's naive to think that no one is ever going to mess with your kids. Playing violent games is fun, sneaking some porn is a phase of life, but no one deserves to be taken advantage of. There is a method to the madness and if it's broken then we break with it. I would love to live without a "Nanny-State" but the truth is that we cannot survive without one. Maybe You can, maybe I can (and I can) but we all cannot. No offense to anyone, but the truth is that too many people are far too ... I really don't want to use the word stupid, but I don't know what else to call it. Scared? "Some people just like to watch the world burn." It's all fun and games until you're the one burning to death. Most people don't consider anything bad until something bad happens. A lot of these kids have access to mommy's credit card and aren't even in their teens yet. I mean, I can think of a million things wrong with that right there alone. But then again, I shouldn't confuse my idealism with the FTC.

jer_1
jer_1

Good lord. Just listen to the government people, don't try thinking for yourselves. Turn in your neighbors too they might be wealthy, they may own a gun, and heck they may even have drugs! OMG!!! We'll never survive on our own without a nanny-state looking over our shoulders...

patton101
patton101

The Government really needs to stay out of issues like this, it's up to the parents to decide what their kids can play and what they can't, not the feds.

aura_enchanted
aura_enchanted

and this gentlemen (and ladies) is why the us government will never get anywhere its got this crazy notion and is convinced that STUDIES ILL HELP THEIR CAUSES, GET YOU SCARED, AND RUN UNDER THERE NET OF SAFETY (most of the time for a fee). OR INTO BACKING IT INTO PREVIOUSLY RIDICULOUS ACTIONS (case in point the war on terror, the increased immigration and travel security, etc)

Gruug
Gruug

If the gov't is looking at one corner of the gaming market they are looking at ALL the gaming market. I will submit that if they can put in some regulations which force game companies to pay under the table to the politicans campaigns, our gov't will find a way.

lance435
lance435

lol Come to think of it, I've seen my 7 year old cousin play Liberty City on his PSP and no one seems to care. Mass Effect is quite popular for the possible "scenes" that you can unlock and no one seems to care enough. Now don't think I'm acting against this (as long as it doesn't affect World of Warcraft) but all I'm saying is... why just MMOs? The environment in gaming is more dangerous than what you'll find in Second Life so why not look at GTA?

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

I try it first and then decide if it is appropriate for my daughter. Maybe some other parents should give it a go. Little Big Planet for example, it is just fine so my little 'un plays it online every now and again.

aura_enchanted
aura_enchanted

i believe they should study how much their parents KNOW about the games their children play. this would really tell us where the problems lye. as we always see the product blamed not the user or the supervisor of that person.

aldrenar47
aldrenar47

I don't think there's anything you can learn about sex or "bad" language or drugs in video games that you won't learn just from attending middle school. The kids there talk like Grand Theft Auto characters anyway (at least they did at the one I went to some 10 years ago). I'm not saying that's a good thing, but thats the reality of the situation.

andrewlkt
andrewlkt

I thought they were going to study whether most minors in online games are actually extremely annoying or just very annoying.

reserati
reserati

That's great that we have a 12 trillion dollar deficit and can still fund pointless studies.

Gen-Gawl
Gen-Gawl

Don't you have to pay via credit card to have access to this stuff anyway? So either you are either an adult or have your parents permission. Ooooorrrrrrr you stole your parents credit card, in which case you have much bigger problems than your gaming habit.

doombringer175
doombringer175

Look. I now parents are paranoid about this kind of stuff. But If a parent is not sure what their child is doing that is a problem. Not the states, but the parents. It should not even consume a fraction of a penney in understanding. If needed a parent can track where a child has been with a simple built in program. Soom found a way around this, but IT can not be completely averted.

Merl57
Merl57

IT DOESN'T MATTER if this goes in to effect you might as well have the ISP's track everything everyone does online. Wow there still is the internet on the PC's internet explorer could do way more damage than a game.

Glade_Gnarr
Glade_Gnarr

The internet is really really great... for porn.

jrabbit99
jrabbit99

Let parents regulate what their kids do, not the government >:(

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

I know there are some mature younger players, but overall it would probably be quite different in the gaming world if more virtual worlds were adult only. Not saying I advocate for enforcing that everywhere, but some adult only online games would be a nice change of pace. Even without porn, I could do with less yelling, whining, swearing, etc.

Lord_Tigger
Lord_Tigger

How about a study on how worthless parents expect game companies to monitor their children?

tworkma
tworkma

Timmy be gone! Let him get out and play outside, do his homework and stick to his age appropriate games. I'm sick of playing with future MLG wanna bes who parents think they are enhancing their "talent"

Generic_Dude
Generic_Dude

With the world in recession and our government trillions of dollars in the hole, THIS is what they're spending our tax dollars on?

VW_MKIII
VW_MKIII

FREE SPEECH FREE SPEECH FREE SPEECH, NUFF SAID!!!