Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Watch out for WeeWorld

I have started this mission of researching Virtual Worlds designed for children. During my research I found that my 10 year old daughter has an account for Wee World. Now I remember her asking me if she could join and I remember her saying that it was like Club Penguin. Well I am here to tell you that it is NOT like Club Penguin. I have suspended my daughter's Wee World account. This is why...
I noticed that several people had sent my daughter friend invites (similar to myspace). When I logged into her account, I noticed that most of the chats revolved around her WeeMee (her virtual character) being "hot". She had several requests from boys asking if she would be their girlfriend. She had comments about how they "would like to have ***" with her.
I found that she lied about her age to gain access to the site which you must be over 13 to join - a little detail that she forgot to tell me. It was easy for her to lie about her age and gain access to the site.
To get started on WeeWorld, your child designs a WeeMee. They pick body color, eye color, and are able to accentuate body parts like their chest. This is an image of a Mee under design:
I am glad that they have covered the private areas. Oh My!
Once the child designs the Mee they are able to and encouraged to make new friends. They are having a contest for the Mee that sends the most friend invites. The site also offers a Mee look a like contest. I noticed that some of the contest entries are adults well over the age of 18. I am not comfortable with my young daughter or even my 14 year old daughter being encouraged to chat with other people that are over the age of 18. I know that it is my responsibility to keep my child safe online, however, this site is targeted to children, unlike a site like myspace that is targeted to teens and adults.

Their safety policies are also very vague. They go into detail about how to protect your child online. They put the responsibility on the parent to police your child's behavior online. They state that they have filters for inappropriate language but they ask that the child report any abuse. This warning message is listed in their Safety Advice area:
"Remember the person you are in contact with may not be who they say they are. If you are under the age of 18, speak to a trusted adult before arranging to meet someone in the real world."

In fairness of WeeWorld, here is the link to the Safety Advice section of WeeWorld for you to view (it is too long to copy within the text). http://www.weeworld.com/popups/safetyAdvice.aspx#safety

Based on reading the Safety Advice and spending time on my daughter's WeeWorld account, I think that it is important to know that this Virtual World is intended for children over 13. Make sure that if your child is under 13 that you do not allow them to sign up for this. I am writing this to warn parents of the potential danger for children of all ages. I hope this helps you make an informed decision.

19 comments:

Andrea said...

Thank you for the information about WeeWorld. I have 2 children who also lied about their age to join the site. Needless to say when I found out I suspended internet use altogether. I wish there were more moms like you who take the time do a little research. Thanks again.

BOOKMAN said...

I also thank you for the info. I became alarmed when I noticed two things:
1 Virtual clothes are "for sale" on the site - for real hard currency. That is: for $40 USD you can 'buy'20,000 points, which in turn allows you to 'buy' clothes. This, one would think, will lead to a kind of status symbol dress where the coolest people have the coolest (read 'most expensive') clothes.
Secondly: When my daughter showed me the clothes 'for sale' I noticed some alarming symbols. As in "Goth" type wear, and - yes - lesbian "female to female" symbols.

That, coupled with what I just read here, is enough for me.

what a fast changing cyber world we live in. Thks for helping me keep my eyes open to potential dangers.

ENGLISH ROSE said...

I think parents need to informed that WEEWORLD.COM is a candy box for sexual predators and pedaphiles. It is a cute and creative website very much gear toward children----that has a very very dark side. My research was so frighting, I could not beleive it. Please parents be warned!!!!

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2cute4u said...

i like the ideal of weeworld!!!

S™ said...

BookMan,
I am a teenager (yes, over 10 years old and under 17), and I have a WeeWorld. My parents have checked out the site, and allow me to go on it. They trust that I won't get up to no good, or do anything I shouldn't. I have realized that on any of the sites you go on, there will always be creepy people, or ones up to no good. It's pretty much impossible to escape these people. But, I was wondering, what is wrong with 'Goth' or 'Lesbian' symbols?
I am neither, but I don't find anything wrong with either. It's a life choice - such as being a Republican or a Democrat -, and I think that WeeWorld has to accomodate for ANYONE (including Goths and Lesibans) that would have an account on their site.
Anyways,
I don't mean to be rude :)

Bill Cramer said...

Last night my 13 y.o. daughter casually mentioned to us that she had a new "boyfriend" on WeeWorld, He claimed he was 14 yo and lonely, etc., and that he also asked her for our phone number! How many 14 y.o. boys do you know who would talk like that? Later I come to find out she had decided to dress her avatar in underwear only. Needless to say WeeWorld is no longer part of our world! Thanks for you research and comments about this. It only re-enforces what we were already thinking.

Lexi said...

Weeworld is actually a fun website
my weeworld avatar is cutenerd101
please feel free to add me because i have helped other people on weeworld
any website people go on it will be the same
[[even clubpenguin]]

Rachel said...

Im a member of weeworld. It is not safe at all! I trust myself to not make bad mistakes but i am the only one. once you join weeworld, you get asked out then you virtual date and dress your weemee up in slutty clothes and all the boys ask you out then ask you to have cyber sex. its HORRIBLE. dont let your children join it. my parents dont let me but still havent found out. your kids are sneakier than you think. if i were you, i would make a weemee, then add your child as a friend just to monitor them. if you dont like what you see, then wait for them to be on weeworld, then go to where they are in the house without them knowing. ask for them to show you around on the site. make sure you ask them to click on the "world" button. then tell them you dont like that they can just talk to anyone uncensored...ban them from it. please. its a horrible site.

annie said...

I have a weemee and its not as bad as u think. yes there is swearing and really.. well odd ppl that do say that stuff but think. Your kid should no not to tlk 2 them and 2 just tlk to there friends. Those ppl could b anywhere so if u say ur kid cant go on weeworld then say no 2 www.gaiaonline.com and www.meez.com. If ur child gets with a person on weeworld and u no.. hang w/ them then ur kid is .. (no affence) but.. stupid.


add me. :]

Ann92 < weemee

xDlilemobetchxD123 said...

I Think That This Is wack
Every Child Shuld Be Able To Do Wat They Want To Do
Seriously They Are The Boss Of Themselves So Parents Shouldnt Be Allowed To tell There Kid Wat To Do And Wat Not To Do >=[

CarlieGoesBAM said...

Yes, i am a member of weeworld too, but its not as bad as you've explained it. Your child chooses to dress there avatar like that, but soe can be very clean cut. Yes, It should be okay for kids 11 and up, to date on weeworld. Believe it or not, not every one on those virtual sites are "sexual predators". So stop being so touchy about it. They want to explore and learn new things. Plus, its a good way for kids to gain more self esteem. Your kids will be open to other oppertunities, like learning about Gay/ lesbians etc. If your to old school and clean cut to understand that, than hell, let the kids sit in a corner, deprived from thee world there whole life.

-Carlie :]

ALISSON said...

Thank you so much for this review! My daughter is 11 and her friend from school told her to get an account on weeworld! You made it very easy to know it is not safe!

Shelly Campbell-Harley said...

Wow! There are so many parents out there that are totally unaware of what their kids are doing on the Internet--it's scary! What's even scarier is the parents that know and don't think there's anything wrong with it! Thanks everybody for your research on these sites! Shelly, author of 12 Signs That Your Child May Be A Bully

jps said...

I think you did the right thing! I do not like that little icon thing. It's creepy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. My 12 year old was asking for me to allow the site (We use Safe Eyes internet filter & it blocks the site).

I looked around quite a bit before I found your blog. The parent's observations along with the users comments has helped me decide that it will remain blocked.

BTW, noone should allow their children on the internet without a filter. It's not perfect, but it sure helps.

Fallen said...

I must start by saying I am impressed by the amount of concerned parents that have replied to this blog. It is a truly honorable thing to do, but you are placing to much blame on the site without considering a few things. For starters WeeWorld is a roleplay site. For those of you who are not familiar with the word "roleplay" it is a fairly popular term that is used to describe persons who take on a character and speak as them. Next, there are filters that you may apply to your child's account. At age seventeen I no longer need them, but my six year old sister has an account with WeeWorld with said filters applied. She has just learned to read so for that reason we do not allow her to have friends that are not relatives or myself, and she can not receive messages from those who are not friends. This allows her to dress her character and that is about it. We have approved a few none relatives but only because they speak her native language and we feel it is good for her to communicate in Bolivian just as she does in Spanish and English. Also, all sites have an age restriction. The typical age is thirteen, but has been lowered to twelve by most sites. If your child admits to being under said age restriction the majority of us older users will report them.

You reasons for removing your child from the site is understandable, but please do not jump to conclusions to quickly. Not everyone on the site is bad, and these "boyfriends" are simply a part of the game. Yet, a twelve year old who does not understand that it is a game should not be playing along. I do applaud you all though for your concern about what your child does on the world wide web, because remember, once its on there, it's there for good.

Denise Sebesta Lanier said...

Both WeeWorld & Club Penguin are unsafe for children & rife with child predators. Our god daughter was solicited on *both* sites with graphic sexual language that started out as "friends," then "boyfriends," and then once her trust was gained, invitations for sexting. I went online on both of these sites, created the identity of a 13 yr old character, and within 15 minutes was receiving multiple requests for friendship and more. You have to look further - all the way into the various chat and party rooms, at the messages going back and forth on viewable "walls" and mailboxes - to see the truly horrifying conversations and explicit language.

Kids think these avatar things represent what and whom they purport to be. If you examine the syntax and manipulations of the conversations - known as "grooming behavior" - you will see just how many of these "kids" are anything but. And children are simply not savvy enough to pick up, or often even look for, these clues.

Also be advised, photos and videos can be shared right on the site. And did you know that messages can be sent back and forth via YouTube, as well? So even if your child doesn't have email privileges, these sites, and YouTube, provide that to them.

Our god daughter is still in the process of being interviewed by law enforcement. She came thisclose to setting up an in-face meeting with her "boyfriend." She still seems to believe he is real, her age, her bestest ever friend who loves her and believes her and understands her better than anybody "in the whole wide world." That's a child-predator's job, to get a kid to buy into all of that fantasy to the extent that she/he will do just about anything to protect and advance their "relationship." Child predators invest hours upon hours in your child to gain their trust. Parents have to have the same dedication to researching every way their child might be interacting with persons unknown to them.

Keep your kids safe; keep them away from Club Penguin, WeeWorld, and all online forums.

Anonymous said...

I am 13 and was thinking about getting a weeworld account. I decided to research it first to make sure it was an okay site. Thanks so much for letting me know the truth about weeworld.com.