The Lindens recently announced a new age verification system they’re testing to address the problem of underage users creating accounts to access Second Life. I think this brings up an issue that has long since been overlooked. Teens should be allowed to access the “real” Second Life. And here’s my reasoning.
As we all know, the media has been saturated with stories about virtual worlds and Second Life. Stories about business, education, and various virtual experiences peak readers’/viewers’/listeners’ curiosity and have let to the creation and registration of millions of accounts. Including those of many who are “underage”. Currently, if a Second Life resident is found to be under 18, LL suspends the account until proof of age is submitted.
My first response to this is “Can you blame them?” If I was under 18 and came across all this buzz about virtual worlds, you bet I’d check that box stating I’m of age in order to see what all the hoopla is about.
“But there is a lot of adult content that these children should not be exposed to,” you might argue. Ah, but the islands and parcels that this material is on is labeled “Mature”. So, why don’t we allow underage players to only access land that is designated “PG”? This will allow students to access all of the educational material that’s currently available on the main grid, plus it will allow K-12 educators (who have previously been limited to only using the teen grid) to collaborate with higher ed users in Second Life. Plus, undergrad virtual recruiting has all kinds of possibilities!
C’mon people — let’s not shut the door to our learners. Let’s instead open it and use the management tools already in existence to allow our teens to experience this virtual extravaganza!