Monday, January 31, 2011

Ready or Not Here Come The Teens

Last year, Philip Linden announced that Second Life’s Teen Grid would be merging with the main, bringing in a number of young residents. The news brought a number of shocked responses, some predicting trouble. As this was about the same time as the Emerald controversy, it might have otherwise gotten more talk than it did had there not been other pressing matters.

A bit more than a week ago, Linden Lab quietly announced it was finally transferring the teen accounts over. The news made a few blogs, such as Tateru Nino’s “Dwell on It.” I also observed a short chat about it between SL players on Facebook, the people wanting to welcome the teens. The Betaverse blog suggested making February “Teen Welcome Month.” I was also told by a friend that someone whom lost land from the Interlibber Estate bankruptcy in 2009 was going to provide a sim to help welcome the teens, after they were now out of a place to stay and in need of a new one.

Betaverse mentioned three ten-friendly places:

  • Ozma Malibu over at the Nonprofit Commons reports that they want to help mentor any teens that need help, create a "teen hangout" space on their Eco sim, and provide "informational welcoming posters and a variety of activities coming up, e.g. art with an art professor, various building workshops for the newer teens, more dances & etc. We'll also encourage teens to start their own nonprofits, and can mentor them through that process." Nice!
  • Isla Sonoita is offering a "Teen in Residence" program to creative teens with a space for six months to work on creative projects on their sim. You also get L$ 2,000 to start you off.
  • The Chilbo Community has published a really nice opinion piece about the Teen Grid merger and informs teens about their various spots, including the Town Hall, coffee shop, bowling alley, museum and land for sale.
  • Further down the road, the Virtual Best Practices in Education organizers report that they March 17-19 event will feature a special Teen Fair to involve teens in their conference

Not every resident is expressing such optimism about the teens. The forums are full of comments questioning Linden Labs’ judgment about allowing 16 and 17 year olds on the main Grid, let alone those younger being allowed in if they’re with a sponsor. Chatting with friends, some predicted the arrival of teens would bring a plague of content thieves and griefers, driving paying residents from Second Life. And of course were the old fears of lawsuits on Linden lab and arrests of residents by parents who catch their kids peeping in on private activities. “I asked the Lindens about merging the grid months ago, and they told me there would be no merger!” one frustrated resident told me of Linden Labs’ apparently changing their mind.

Tateru Nino brought up a few details that may help reassure some a little. Of the teens younger than 16 whom could get on the sim of a sponsor, her talk with someone from the lab suggested no sponsor had been approved yet, and the sponsorship system itself might have been postponed. She also reminded that the teens were far less than the adult population. Teen Second Life has always had a small population, adolescents tending to prefer Facebook, MORPGs, and virtual worlds that appeal to them, such as Gaia Online.

And there’s the argument that there always have been some teens in Second Life, the secret adolescents not giving true information about their age. I’ve heard from friends of residents they know confessing they were underage. Linden Lab’s Teen Grid merger simply takes the blinders off people fooling themselves there were no people under 18 in Second Life, more than one person has commented.

So what do the teens themselves think? A meeting a month ago at Global Kids Island suggested most were feeling rather anxious about the merger, feeling their close community was coming to an end. Some felt the 13-15 year olds were getting “shut out completely.” The news of the angry comments from the official forums had reached them, and some felt pessimistic about the welcome they would get if it was know they were teens. Still, a few expressed excitement of the merger, and they chance they would get to show off their talents.

For anyone not wanting teens on his/her land, there's always the option of setting their land to “Mature” or “Adult” to keep accounts of those under 18 off.

So ready or not, the grids have merged, and for better or worse the Main now has these youngsters, at least on the PG grids.

Sources: Dwell on It, SL Blog, Betaverse
Picture from Betaverse

Bixyl Shuftan

1 comment:

  1. Go to the Welcome center in IDU. It's PG.
    Now walk SE until you come to the stores in the M sim of Jieut.
    Cam across the M border and look around inside the store.

    Now, who still thinks that the mainland is safe (or can be safe) for children to play in? This is only one simple example of the impossibility of having underaged kids on a grid sold to adults with the promise that it would always be an adult grid. It will be a miracle if LL doesn't get sued by the AFA for providing little Johnny with so many different ways to see pixel porn, all without having to defeat any protections or restrictions.