Teen Second Life
Important note: Teen Second Life (SL) was closed on 01/21/2011 and its contents were transferred to the Second Life main grid. Most of the information below is mainly for historical purposes.
Second Life is one of the world’s most popular virtual world arenas. Teen SL was developed as an offshoot of Second Life and functions as a “safer” virtual environment for younger users.
Linden Lab, the creator of Second Life, found that teens were entering false information to become part of the Second Life virtual world. Problems immediately arose and concern for the safety of younger users became an issue that was reported in the national media. To address these issues Linden Lab launched Second Life for teens in 2005.
Teens aged 13 to 17 can sign up for a free basic Second Life for teens account. If a teen is found to have a Second Life account his account information will be transferred to Second Life for teens. Upon reaching the age of 18 a Second Life account for teens will automatically become a Second Life account.
Adults are sometimes allowed in the Teen version of Second Life virtual world but their access is restricted and they must undergo a criminal background check. Adult access is usually limited to educators and non-profit organizations. They must stay on “adult islands” and cannot enter the main teen area.
Content in Second Life for Teens is strictly monitored. Mature language, graphic content, violence, and nudity are all banned. If an unauthorized adult user is found in Second Life for teens his account will be immediately shut down and in many cases will most likely have his information reported to authorities who deal with exploited and abused children.
Second Life is also being explored as an educational platform for teens. Several universities have found success using Second Life to communicate with students. Teen Second Life is being considered by many high schools as a medium of communication.
The economy in Second Life for teens does not work exactly like the original Second Life economy. Land and other items usually sell for much less on Teen Second Life. The economy is based on users’ avatars, accessories, and land among other measures.
Most teen users do not have paid accounts and depend on the basic free service for play. This has an effect on the economy. Content can be purchased at significantly lower prices than in the virtual world of Second Life. For example, a basic car might sell for $30 Linden Dollars (Second life money) in Second Life for teens and cost as much as $300 Linden Dollars in Second Life.
There are several ongoing public projects in the Teen Second Life virtual environment. These projects give teen users a chance to discover what is going on in the world and what they can do to make a difference.
- Global Kids is an island in Teen SL that teaches teens about world, cultural, and social issues. It also gives teens a platform to discuss these issues with other teens. Foreign policy and human rights are only two of the many topics discussed on the island.
- Virtual World Campus is a private project offering a way to use Teen SL for education purposes to educators with low budgets.
- British Council Isle is a place for non-English speakers to meet and practice their English speaking skills. The island provides a large data base of linguistic information and holds contests based on deciphering linguistic clues.
The Real Deal
Teen Second Life has succeeded in offering teens a safe alternative to the mature content found in Second Life. Its membership is growing daily. Linden Lab hopes to add new content monthly that gives teens the opportunity to discover their place in both the real and virtual world.
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