For many children, virtual worlds are their learning system for discovering what social behaviors are appropriate. For this reason, children should be informed about virtual world safety and behavior before playing. Children who navigate these complex virtual learning systems face some real dangers.
Organizations like Every Child Matters work to ensure that each child has the right to play, to be healthy, to stay safe, and to achieve economic well-being. Safety refers to children’s right to be free from maltreatment, neglect, violence and sexual exploitation; safe from accidental injury and death; safe from bullying and discrimination; and safe from crime in and out of school.
Although these are real-world goals, they also apply to the virtual world. Increasingly the distinction between online and offline is a blurred one for young people. However, when children are aided in their use of virtual worlds, they are provided with not only an interactive learning system but a space for creating, communicating, and having fun.
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