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I'm curious if anyone allows their child to use this feature and can tell me about their experience with it?

 

My 9 year old daughter sometimes plays on Disney's Pixie Hollow in her spare time and has requested access to this feature.

 

I have always used parent controls on web sites my kids use, allowing only "canned" chat (selecting from a menu of responses) or no chat.

 

I figure I have to let her communicate with random people on the internet at SOME point. I always assumed it would be older, but then again, if there is a web site she is interested in at this age that is moderated and dictionary-restricted, maybe it would be a good opportunity to teach her about internet safety and etiquette (AND my expectations about not using "textspeak").

 

Does anyone have experience with this feature? How safe/effective is it?

 

I'm 35 and my internet access started in the local BBS world when I was about 16 and... well, let's just say I could have benefited from some parental guidance/instruction before being thrust into that.

 

Not that I'm blaming my parents.. it was SUCH new technology back then and they didn't know better - but I can't look to my parents as a model as to how to handle parenting through this situation.

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I wouldn't, and I'm pretty liberal. It will either be a good experience which can be addictive for someone old enough to have a fully developed frontal lobe, or it will be a bad experience, which is self-explanatory. Hold off on texting, IMs, and all social media for as long as possible. You don't want to open up that particular Pandora's box until she is old enough that it is no longer a hill to die on.

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We haven't used that particular forum, but we allowed chat on moderated forums only around 9 or 10. We hammer on safety, and they know that all of their internet communication might be viewed by us at any time. We use Pandora PC, which creates reports and doesn't and eliminates the opportunity for them to delete messages and such.

 

Like you, we figured that a closely monitored and moderated experience would be the best start. dh and I use computers, tech, and the internet extensively, and banning it for them felt artificial to us. We could have held them off to a much later age, but my own experience has been that the internet community can be just as positive or just as negative as the 'real' world. I have met many intriguing people on the internet and had many great conversations. Some of them stay online only, some I have had the pleasure of meeting in person, either briefly or on an ongoing basis.

 

As long as parents realize that they need to supervise their kids on the internet just as they do in real life, I don't think the dangers are necessarily greater (on moderated forums in particular). If they are at risk on the internet, they are at risk in their neighborhood.

 

My kids have talked to other kids from around the world, which is pretty awesome. Most of their online time is related to role-playing and writing stories, so I do allow them a fair amount of time on the computer. If they were neglecting other activities or wasting lots of time on pointless chatter or gossip, I'd be much more restrictive.

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