If you or your kids have logged into World of Warcraft recently, you might be getting an error stating “Launching cannot obtain patching information.” Before you restart your computer, successfully download the new patch, and continue playing, consider this — is World of Warcraft a safe game for kids to be playing anyway?
When I was tween (back before the Warcraft franchise was WOW), I spent countless hours playing this game with my dad. He would set up on his work computer, and I would be in the room right next to him on our home computer. It was our special time and we would work together to win at a game, which yes, had a violent premise, but was not graphic by any means. It was actually kind of hard and required lots of teamwork and strategy — definitely great for developing young minds’ problem solving skills.
But how has technology changed since then, and why is it more dangerous?
Since my childhood, the technology used in internet-based games is significantly different. Graphics have become much more realistic, displaying life-like violence, and user interaction has become alarmingly personal. It’s no longer like the AOL chat rooms we worried about our kids sneaking into (and could just as easily block as my parents did). It’s a full-on phone conversation. Equipped with a headset, any kid playing WOW can talk to strangers around the world (of all ages), and the worst part — parents have little control over what younger kids might hear or the information they are giving away.
It’s safe to say that while World of Warcraft might not be all that bad, if your kids are involved it’s best to skip the headset and play with them. This can be a great family bonding activity (especially in bad weather) and you can easily make sure they’re not talking to strangers all over the world. Even so, make sure to limit their playing time. While they might be “playing” with their real-life friends online or even you, it’s always better to have some actual face time.
What do you think? Do you let your kids play?