24 July 2009

JumpStart Multi-Player: Is It Safe?

So the JumpStart multi-player feature has already gone live. But maybe you are still wondering if it is safe to let your young kids go onto a website where they can interact with other people. I know that as J-man decided he was ready for multi-player games ( NOT that I was ready for him to be ready!) that we ran across a few difficulties. 
First... well, we unschool. I refuse to PUSH my children to learn, and trust in the knowledge that they will learn what they need when they are ready for it. Sometimes this means that we do things at different ages than other kids. There are a lot of things that my kids DO know at a younger age than usually taught, and other things they haven't gotten around to it! Reading is one such topic. 
It is normal for boys' brains to not have the right neural bridges built to comprehend the pieces to easily put together what is needed to read until between the ages of 8 -12 years of age. And J-man is one who wanted to wait.
So, our biggest challenge to J-man going into multi-player games was that he did not read, let alone type, yet. I vividly remember the days of his frustration at not knowing what other people were saying, and as he is starting to read, the sheer number of people in the room. That little chat screen can move too fast for me to read... J-man was understandably overwhelmed! 
Naturally, when I heard that JumpStart.com was adding a multi-player feature to the website, I was a bit concerned by it. So, I went looking for answers, and asking questions! Rest assured that helping kids to be comfortable while learning is of the utmost concern to the folks over at JumpStart! They designed this multi-player feature in a way that will allow the kids to interact, like they love to do, be safe and not get overwhelmed by the experience. The information below came straight from one of the nice folks over at JumpStart...thanks Sonia!

"-The MMO function is in “small rooms” in that Jumpeez will not see more than 10-20 other Jumpeez at a time. They’ll be on different servers in small numbers so as to not intimidate younger kids who are playing. The actual location of the MMO function is, however, the Main Street you always see when you first log in, not a separate room. The MMO function will NOT be active in StoryLand and AdventureLand, and will not be active in the upcoming MarineLand either.

-Kids can communicate through emoticons and various gestures like waving and dancing. Soon, there may be “canned chat” where kids can select from a variety of preset phrases, but they will never be able to actually type to each other."

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