Kids Web Sites Lead to Adult Content and Apps
Kids are more and more Web-savvy these days. They play games, work on their vocabulary and do math exercises -- all online. But some of those kid-friendly Web sites they go to may be opening doors to other content parents don't want them to see.Parents might think Nickelodeon's Web site Nick.com is worry-free.Robin Stoehr never thought twice about her kids, 8 and 11, using it until she saw games like Naughty Baby-Sitter and Spank the Monkey.null"I wouldn't have imagined that they could get in there so quickly and easily and see things that they shouldn't be seeing," Stoehr said.By clicking "more" on Nick.com's Games site, her kids could tap into racy and even violent adult-themed games. And while those Games are hosted on a different Web site, the Nickelodeon logo was still on top.How is this happening? Nick.com links to AddictingGames.com, another site the company owns.There is notification on the Nick.com to signal when a user is leaving for AddictingGames.com, Nickelodeon told ABC News said in a statement. (CLICK HERE to read the full statement)Nickelodeon says it is constantly reviewing its policies and hired Internet safety lawyer Parry Aftab, executive director of Wiredsafety.org.Aftab has been closely watching a proliferation of sites she says are blurring the lines between child and adult content."You're seeing cartoons, you're seeing what looks kid-friendly," Aftab said. "But underneath it http://Fetish-Network.blogtur.com - Fetish Network - all it may not be."She took us to a site called GaiaOnline.com and set out to chat. And within minutes the game was asking Aftab to engage in kissing.Keeping Kids Away From Adult Web SitesABC News also reached out to GaiaOnline. The company tells us it prohibits users under the age of 13, and that it has hundreds of moderators who remove questionable content. The company said in a statement that "we have taken every reasonable step to ensure that GaiaOnline is safe, and that breaches of safety or privacy are swiftly reached to." (CLICK HERE to read the full statement)"The sites need to recognize they have to have good moderators, good filtering tools and they need to watch their links," Aftab said.Kim Komando regularly gets questions from concerned parents on her nationwide technology show."Kids are so technologically savvy," she said. "If there's a way around it. They're going to find a way around it."Her biggest worry lately? The newest frontier: small programs, or "apps," for hand-held devices.Any kid with a few minutes on an iPod touch or an iPhone can easily trip across and download apps like "Virtual Girlfriend.""She'll perform little shows for you then you can zoom in on certain areas," Komando explained, calling it "pretty suggestive."Apple points out its devices have parental controls that use age-based ratings. We had difficulty finding them, and the explicit language filter we did find didn't block the Pocket Girlfriend app. The company also said that on Apple.com you can find detailed information on parental controls and how to use them in the iPhone and iTunes pages of the site. (CLICK HERE to read the full statement)Ipods and iphones are popular holiday gifts, and Aftab says parents need to ask "what can your kids do and how can they do it, before you plunk down your money this holiday season."Aftab has advice for parents on preventing your children from finding their way to these Web sites.Advice for Parents: Be Proactive, Demand SafetyEvaluate the "three Cs -- content, contact and conduct.What can your kid see on site? Who can they talk to and what can they say? And what can they do there?"You've got to make sure that game is right and the only way to do it is to sit down and play it and watch it," she said. "There's some good things out there."Aftab recommends online games such as Disney's ClubPenguin, Webkins, Build-a-Bearville and KidZui.When kids ask for a device, ask them to explain these things and all the things they can do, Aftab advises.Kids have "more power in their backpacks, pockets and purses these days than they ever had before," she said.Don't take Web sites for granted.You can't take anything for granted, Aftab says. Just because a site looks like it was designed for kids, it does not mean it is for kids.Demand safety from the brands you trust.Be demanding, Aftab says. If you find something questionable from a brand you trust, send them an e-mail.Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" Web site.