Frequently Asked Questions By Parents
As a parent, you are an expert at keeping your child safe. You have encouraged and protected your child through first steps, first days of school, first bike rides and first sleepovers. As your child grows and demonstrates greater responsibility you have given her more freedom. But now that your child is going online you may find yourself in unfamiliar territory. The Internet is an invaluable resource for fun and for learning – but how can you teach your child to stay safe in cyberspace when she knows more than you do? It can be daunting when you don't know what your child is doing, or what risks she may face.
The PowerUp team takes Internet safety very seriously! PowerUp is designed to be a completely safe online environment for your child. We have also provided additional tips and resources to help you and your child be smart about staying safe on the Internet.
Here are the features that make PowerUp a video game you can feel GOOD about!
No Personal Information Collected
Your child will never be asked for any personal information, whatsoever, when downloading, registering for or while playing PowerUp. When your child registers and creates an avatar she will name her on-screen identity by choosing from long lists of first- and last names. Never will she be asked for her real name, her IM screen name, her email address, or any other personal information.
No Opportunity for Inappropriate Chat
PowerUp players use a phrase-based chat system to communicate with each other. There is no blank field into which another player can type a message and send it to your child, rather, throughout the game players can choose from a contextualized list of messages to send to other players. The list has been created by the game designers and includes only phrases that are necessary for cooperation and positive reinforcement between players.
PowerUp is an exciting, action-packed game with no violence at all. Players work together, against the clock, to rebuild wind turbines, solar power towers and hydroelectric power plants. Along the way they learn about the benefits of and the science behind clean energy. Your child will take away positive messages about teamwork, energy conservation and the excitement and diversity of various engineering professions.
Internet Safety Tips and Resources
Your child's online safety is not about technology; it's about communication and good parenting. Your wisdom, experience and parenting skills are what are most important and with a little know-how they can be applied to the new challenges presented by the Internet.
Don't talk to strangers
Your child knows not to talk to strangers on the playground or at the mall. Talk to her about using the same common sense online. Young people need to understand that strangers they meet online, via a social networking site like facebook or myspace, in a chat room, or while instant messaging (IM), might not be who they pretend to be – even if it appears that person is vetted through his or her relationships with mutual friends. The best thing to do if approached by a stranger is to ignore the message and if the sender persists, use software tools built into the site or the message software to block messages from that sender.
Furthermore, your child should not reveal personal information on the web when communicating with friends, in profiles on social networking sites, IM screen names nor registrations for sites or services. This information includes name, age, sex, school, address, town, names of sports teams or other after school activities she participates in, and posting pictures of herself online.
Finally, your child should never open an email or IM attachment sent by a stranger, as it may contain a virus or other malicious software.
Don't pick fights
If your child were the victim of bullying at school or on the playground you would likely see evidence in the form of scrapes and bruises or you might hear about it from parents or other adults who were witnesses. Not so if your child is being picked on online. Cyberbulling is the willful, repeated harassment of a person over a digital medium such as IM, online message boards or voting sites, email, phone text messages (SMS), blogs, video or social networking sites. Cruel rumors, threatening messages, embarrassing pictures can be sent to one child repeatedly or to an entire school community causing pain and humiliation. It is vital to talk with your child about the dangers of cyberbullying, to ensure that if she becomes a victim she will alert you and also so that she will not actively or passively enable cyberbullies to target others.
Peer to peer file sharing software has made illegal downloading of music, movies, software and other intellectual property easier than ever before. Lawsuits are filed every day against kids and parents who own the hardware used in these illegal transactions. If your child is watching a movie or listening to music that you did not buy, ask about it. Explain that file swapping is stealing – even if “everyone else does it” and that kids just like her (and parents like you!) are prosecuted for it.
Know where your child is
Sit with your child as she spends time online. Sit with her as she registers for sites, updates her social networking profile or sends IMs. Make sure she understands what information to keep private and why. Show an interest in the sites she visits, the games she plays and the friends she interacts with. You'll learn a lot about the web and you'll be amazed with her multitasking abilities!
Know your child's friends
You wouldn't let your child hang out with a crowd of peers you had never met – so why let her spend time online with friends you don't necessarily know? Learn her friends' IM screen names, see who she has on her buddy list, look at their social networking profiles. You'll learn a lot about new, social, web 2.0 technologies and the more you know, the better you can communicate with your child.
Know who your child is with, where she is, what she's doing and also when she's there, and for how long. Agree on rules for Internet use and stick to them.
Maintain frequent, open communication
Most importantly, speak frequently and openly about your child's online activities. The more you ask, the more she'll tell you. It is vital that she knows she can always come to you if she is disturbed by anyone or anything she encounters online -- even if it is the result of having broken one of the rules. Imagine your child went to an unsupervised party when she was supposed to be sleeping at a friends house, and imagine the party got out of hand and your child were scared. It is important for her to know that her safety comes first, even if there will be consequences later. She should feel able to call on you for help even as she knows that her own lapse in judgment got her in hot water in the first place. The same is true with online activity.