My daughters love games. Not surprising, I’m avid player of strategy games and their dad and me compete against each other on a regular basis. We also play games with our girls teaching them to be gracious in winning, how to take turns and most importantly how to have fun. I suspect we’re not that different from other families when it comes to games.
So I thought nothing of it when my girls started to download free apps to my iphone to play on car journeys.
Until recently I thought all was good and then the girls discovered Movie Star Planet.
At it’s best Movie Star Planet is shallow and encourages shallowness. At it’s worst… well, it’s a haven of perverts and groomers based on our experiences.
My middle daughter started talking about diets a week after starting to playing Movie Star Planet. Something that she’d never spoke about before. I was informed that to earn extra game credits the girls were encouraged to watch videos. Videos of sharks, videos of people, business videos… and sometimes funny videos of cats. Maybe even videos about dieting, I’m not sure.
And they watched the videos, because every now and then there was a funny video of cats. These are young girls of 7 and 8 years old, they love cats and they love their games. The language of the other players made me cringe too – I found it too sexual people telling my girls they looked hot etc. Maybe that’s how young girls talk these days but I doubt it, and I certainly don’t want my girls talking like this to other people.
I’m at a loss.
I can control what they watch on TV, what they read and how they play together but unless I take the phone from them and stop them downloading apps, I can’t control what they are shown via a game. Many of the games are for kids but the videos are not, like the shark one. The girls have had nightmares about sharks for weeks. I didn’t understand where they were getting their information from… it was Movie Star Planet, and it wasn’t a phone app but a browser based game.
But that’s not all.
VIP Membership Hell
The girls asked for a VIP membership out of their pocket money. They wanted it so much, and did extra chores. So we upgraded their membership with the proviso they did not watch any videos, after all they’d worked hard for it. They agreed but then we found something uglier: people sending naughty messages to the girls.
Sure we took precautions…
- Not their real name…
- Advising them not to give out their personal details
- Talking about being discreet and stranger danger
But that wasn’t enough, they were getting messages asking for personal information and they were hesitant to give it over but the “friends” started to offer treats and gems for the information. At this point we intervened – all the advice in the world wasn’t helping our girls as they didn’t understand what was going on. So my eldest daughter and Kevin went through their friends blocking and reporting the naughty ones.
So the girls learned to block and report nasty people who said things they shouldn’t and asked for personal information.
But they still get the videos.
What kind of company advertises their videos in children’s games to get views? Do companies even realise this is what happens with their videos?
We now have the agreement that they will press play and not watch, because if I find them watching them I will ban all the games. It won’t make me popular but how else can I protect them?
I’m considering getting http://kidlogger.net/ to monitor them but how can they have privacy and develop trust if I’m monitoring them constantly? Okay… I’m going to install it on everything as soon as I’ve finished typing this post – my girls mean the world to me and they should be kept safe as much as possible.
After 2 weeks of VIP Movie Star Planet membership we cancelled it and blocked it from the computer. I wasn’t impressed with Bin Weevils ( a hygiene thing) but the creators of Bin Weevils knew their audience and acted appropriately and they are back playing that, we even do the quizzes together.
Movie Star Planet seem to be on a different planet – one where money is everything, and child safety is nothing. If your child is playing then install http://kidlogger.net/ and keep an eye on them.
As for the videos in apps, I’m not sure what to do – I’d like to block them but I don’t seem to be able to. As Charlotte says – I’m their mum not their best mate…
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