Jennybondurant’s Blog

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice — or Not

Posted in Uncategorized by jennybondurant on March 23, 2009

Monitoring your kids on the Internet is easy, right? You can spot the adults-only websites and steer them clear. I tell the kids they need to have the laptop in a common area, such as the kitchen, so I can cook dinner and still keep half an eye on what sites they are on, because I know they can stumble on something inappropriate without even meaning to. Like the time they decided to do Google searches on their names. The images that pop up for “Erica” are not exactly kid-friendly.

My 5-year-old niece Haley came over and told me she wanted to go on her new favorite site, Girls Go Games dotcom.

From the domain name, the site could go either way – delving into pornography or a bolster for young girls’ self esteem. The pink, playful background and cartoon figures on the site lend toward games and fun entertainment, not XXX ratings. The site links to other site’s games, taking you all over the place, but they’re all about girls.

A lot of the games are about makeovers and make-up, dress-up dolls and cute little pets, but the other games on the site scare me, even if their danger doesn’t register on my niece’s radar.

A cigar-smoking monkey with machine guns popped up to spray bullets as one “Fun” game was loading. In another, you see the back of a voluptuous cartoon woman in a skimpy outfit with arms around her, making out with an unseen lover. But then if you click on the “Animals” tab, you can get to Purina’s virtual pet game, where you select the breed of cat you want, feed it and play with it. Don’t miss the game where you get to dress Paris Hilton in jail.

Girls Go Games is not an “educational” site, but kids learn something every time they play. Logging on to the Internet with Haley was a good lesson for me – Keeping half an eye on what they are logged onto doesn’t work, because what may look like all hearts and pink goodness at first glance may open up into an entirely different world once they get into it.

Haley wanted to play the game in which you had to pick the right box to find the beautiful, computer-generated blonde bombshell. If you got the man, he passed gas – loser. If you got the gray-haired old granny, you lost again.

She was disappointed when I made her pick another web site, but she’ll get over it.

I want her to play a game in which she finds out that getting the girl with looks and a low-cut dress showing off some computer programmer’s affinity for cleavage isn’t the only way to win.