This is a beautiful video which outlines how your identity is formed on the web. While I am an advocate for children and adults figuring out what this means, and how to manage it, it reinforces my belief that virtual worlds are in fact a far safer place for children to begin using the Internet. I used this video with my eight year old daughter today to help explain why she wasn’t going to play some Zanga game of Facebook, not least supported by fact she doesn’t have a Facebook account. What I didn’t expect is that she largely understood the technical terms and certainly the concepts. She has learned that with her friends in our game world – so do I mind her playing vide0-games and having several avatars? No, what I fear more is what would happen if she didn’t.
This is another one I showed her, to explain how identity follows us around. I really like this kind of project – it’s a really great way of acting out the discussion. I’d love to have a go at something like this one day. It brings the idea into an open public space – which really is where identity ends, whether people believe it or not.
Her avatar lives. She lives in Steam, Xbox Live, World of Warcraft, OpenSim, Massively Minecraft and more … and that is where she’s learning how to manage user-accounts, profiles and participation. Rather than be freaked out by this, I think it’s a far better place, given the enormous amounts of data-mining that occurs. It remains to be seen how peer-pressure will impact her choices, but I’m very sure that she won’t gain sufficient knowledge or experience to make good choices at school (not that her school doesn’t work positively in this area). At some point we can only teach water safety, but allowing kids to get wet. It makes sense to swim between the flags – but I guess to many people, it doesn’t make sense to let an 8 year old play games.