In my house we have had a Nintendo Wii for one year now.
It is my 10 year old’s favorite electronic item.
I have enjoyed it too.
Him and I play Wii Sport, Mario Brothers,
and some other games he has.
I have always been a gamer and I started with video games back
in the Frogger, Pacman Era!
I have played video games competitively with all my kids since they were little.
( Sonic, Mario Brothers, Star Wars, Zelda etc.)
I am going to buy Wii fit after Christmas with hopes of helping me break from being on the computer all day.
We have been playing Animal Crossing together for about 2 years now.
So when Animal Crossing City Folk with WiiSpeak came out, I knew we were going to buy it, even though I have my reservations.
Nintendo’s group voice chat peripheral, WiiSpeak, was released in November for $29.99
or in a bundle with Animal Crossing: City Folk for $69.99.
The chat function for City Folk is immediately accessible for any players that have registered one another as friends.
Animal Crossing fans will be able to interact through voice with a whole room full of people.
Wii Speak acts as a large microphone that players set down on a surface with no worries of microphones or headphones. Every new Wii Speak peripheral includes a code for the download
of the new Wii Speak Channel that release by the end of the year.
People will have the ability to chat worldwide with any registered Wii system friend.
While users chat, they will see a Mii representation of themselves on the TV screen. (if they pick the Mii instead of their Animal Crossing character.)
Parents will also have the option to set controls on the device through the Wii, limiting their children’s access to Wii Speak.
(I have not seen this yet and I don’t think most parents even know close to what I do about these games)
I did an online search for explict directions on how to use this feature and I have not found them.
My son thew away the small manual before I realized it and so I will need to try this and see how effective it actually is. From what I gather it only allows you to set when they can play and those type of controls. I tried to call Nintendo but they were closed. I will update this section tomorrow.
When we set up the Wii speak, I was worried. There is something creepy to me about my 10 year old being able to talk to anyone from around the world while playing the beloved game Animal Crossings new version City Folk.
My worries are well founded. I have been speaking on Internet safety for kids for 8 years now at schools.
I cover how to stay safe while social networking online, like myspace and facebook. Now there are just so many more that it is hard to keep up.
My son is also active on YouTube and uploads videos of Animal Crossing City Folk and a few other random videos, but never anything with his name or face. This is one of the places he meets other Animal Crossing
players. Most of them have several websites they use online too.
Such as the official animal crossing website here (Animal Community).
I have trained all my children to be very careful online especially.
Your child connects the Wii speak and the wireless connection takes them out to the Internet.
At this point they need a friend code to add other players into their friends list.
Once they get into one town, other people can come and they all start to exchange friend codes
which allow everyone go and visit each other in their towns.
The way this works is they open their gates, and allow up to 3 other players into their town, or they can go
and visit other peoples town. The maxium amount of players allowed in one town is 4, which includes the owner.
Any of the players who have the Will Speak can just sit there and talk to each other. So far in the last two weeks my son has only met one other person his age. Everyone else has averaged about 15-19 years old and oddly enough only one lady. ( Even though the T.V commercial shows women playing this.)
He is pretty savvy kid safety wise and has already blocked a few questionable people.
After the first day of sitting with him while he played this, I told him he can only use the Wii Speak when I am with him in the room.
The potential for this to go bad for your child is HUGE!
Those parents who not pay attention to what thier kids are doing, I beg you to please sit with your children or be nearby where you can hear the conversations.
Right now as I am writing this , my son is talking to 3 other teenagers and one of them has a brother in the background watching T.V and yelling like a idiot. ( typical teenage stuff)
Since I have been with my son each time he plays this, I actually know who these kids are and how they behave online ( for now at least.) One aspect that is kinda cool is they are from all over the country and that is interesting to a point. My son texts this message to each person as they come into his town, “No swearing or foul language .” So far most of them seem to be honoring that.
One teenager started swearing and my son asked him not to and the kid said “whatever” and my son told him I am only 10 and my Mom is with me, and then took the guy off his friend list.
The guy came back later and said he was sorry and actually apologized to me through the speaker system.
This is my advice to all parents with kids under high school age, pay attention to this system!
There is no trace left of these conversations, if any type of predator or inappropriate person targets your child you can’t track it back online or through a phone bill.
As a person who is always warning about how to keep our children safe this sends a chill through me.
As a game player , I find it really cool and fun.
Some of the things player do in the town is play tag, serve each other food, trade items, give each other items, visit each others “houses” and show off crazy items and masks and all kinds of cool fun stuff.
So where is the happy medium?
This game has kept my son amused for long stretches of time and that can actually be a bad thing.
I can see this affecting kids in the same way being online talking to other people has caused numerous problems for adults who would rather be online in an alternate reality, then dealing with their own life.
I cannot emphasize how much I hope as a parent you will keep an eye on this.
I feel the same way about YouTube. It is fun, I use it myself for training videos and work.
But there is a dark side of ugly and scary videos that get posted and scary people with an agenda
placing their kind of thinking out there for your child to watch.
There is so much being thrown at our children right now and we need
to stay aware and not ignore what they are doing. Since the Internet is my business,
I am very aware of what is going on and my biggest concern are for that are playing unsupervised.
We simply must pay attention to what exactly our kids are doing.
Please teach your children to come to you when they are going to use WiiSpeak.
I would not reccomend that you allow this game to be played in their bedrooms.
Learn to play some of these games with them.
It means the world to them and you may even find yourself
having fun , I know I do. Safety online and in this new wireless world requires viglance from us as thier
parents. It is our job to teach them how to stay safe.