The voice chat parenting crisis…

Recently, I found my teen daughter voice chatting to folks in the MMO she plays the most – Mabinogi. She has some real life friends who play, and some others that they’ve met online.

The thought of her voice chatting with people that she didn’t know made me uncomfortable, but I wasn’t sure how to deal with it in a way that didn’t make me seem hypocritical. (While there are things that are non-negotiable, I try to be a thoughtful parent and mindful of how it was to be a teen.) After all, I use voice chat regularly, and some of the folks that I played WoW and Warhammer with have become great real life friends.

Fortunately, she’s an absolutely awesome kid, and understood my discomfort. I asked her to just hold off on voice chatting while I thought about it for a while, and we talked a bit about why I felt uncomfortable, and some possible solutions to the dilemma. I know some of the things that have been said to me in vent, and I’d rather not have those things said to my daughter. She knows not to give out personal information about herself online, but once she starts talking, people know that she’s a young girl.

Voice chatting in MMOs is not one of those parenting issues that I can solve by looking at my own upbringing. I have wonderful parents, but this just wasn’t something they had to deal with. Maybe the 80s equivalent would have been calling random people on the phone and chatting with them? Yeah. That wouldn’t have gone over well.

Mom... Those gloves SOOOO don't match that outfit!

I have a good friend with a gaming teen. Her son is a little older than my daughter, and he’s a great kid. He’s also got two level 80s in a raid guild in WoW, so I knew that they’d probably dealt with the voice chat issue. She explained that they’d disallowed using vent for a while, until their son proposed paying for the server himself, so he could set the rules and control who came into vent. That solution has worked out really well for them.

Together, my daughter and I ended up making two decisions. First, she would only use voice chat with her real life friends. They’re the only people she wanted to talk to in anyway, but other people kept jumping in. I may end up paying for the vent server so she can control who’s on. Secondly, she started playing EQ2 with me. She wants a challenging MMO experience with loads of content and rich lore. She’s been having a blast, role-playing, level locking to work on crafting and exploring all the areas in each tier. While she goes off to do her own thing in Norrath, I feel better about being connected to what she’s doing.

2 Responses to “The voice chat parenting crisis…”

  1. pasmith says:

    I’m not even a parent and this issue has caused me concern. I’ve been on vent channels where it was clear one of the members was a young person, and I, being at least a half-way decent person, modified my behavior to account for that fact. I have a bad habit of (mostly good natured) cursing, but I can sub in shoot and darn for the filthier alternatives easily enough.

    But I was alarmed by how many people *didn’t* do that, and I found myself wondering if this young person’s parents had any clue of what they were doing.

    Sounds like you’ve found a good path to follow with your daughter. You should get the Modern Mom Seal of Approval!

  2. pkudude99 says:

    My children are just getting to be old enough to want to play MMO’s, but are still rather young. With the prevalence of in-game voice chat becoming more and more standard, I’m thinking it’s going to be “interesting” in the coming years in teaching them to ot give out personal information in voice, just like I’ve taught them not to in any other form of internet communication.

    Fortunately for me so far, my corporation in EVE and the guilds I’ve been in in EQ2 have been quite good about “voice chat discipline” if just doing general chat. Most VC seems to be bout the game itself anyway. EQ2 groups using the VC channel have always been “business oriented” and since you auto-leave the channel when you leave the group have not been a problem.

    And off topic, I saw your comment on Stargrace’s blog about learning to heal on your fury. My fury’s “only” level 77, but back when 70 was the cap I was a raid healer and I was considered to be at least competent, if not pretty darn good at it. If you need some tips, feel free to email me at jscamp2 at netzero dot net.

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