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Virtual worlds safer for kids then the web itself


Dutch researcher Robert Langeweg just finished his study on ‘Threedimensional virtual worlds” for the University of Utrecht. For this he researched in what way virtual worlds like Habbo Hotel and Teen Second Life can be a safe learning environment for children.

His research showed that using practise in virtual environments (under guidance of a teacher) is a very good way of preparing them for safe Internet use. “It is important that kids learn to recognize unsafe or unpleasant situations in this way”, according to Langeweg.

In Teen Second Life, the variant of Second Life for kids between 13 and 17, sex and violence are banned and also Habbo Hotel hold strong censorship. Words like sex, violence, drugs and alcohol are censored. Even though it is of course possible to hack into these systems and enter a virtual environment for children, it is however more and more difficult for grownups to be active in these virtual worlds, according to Langeweg. In Teen Second Life only educators have access to just one island. He states that these environments offer the possibility, with a combination of targeted pedagogics, peer review and a buddysystem, to teach children to use internet safely.

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