Recently my wife sent me a link she ran across online. If was an article from the DailyMail that showcased a “sex room” that a user had created in the children’s game, Roblox. Roblox is touted as a ‘the largest user-generated online gaming platform’ and ‘the #1 gaming site for kids and teens’. We need to have a talk about user-generated content and what it means for your family.
What is UGC?
User-generated content (UGC) refers to any content that is created and submitted by users of a platform. This could be a social media post, YouTube video, blog comment, Instagram photo or almost anything you can think of. Due to the massive amount of user generated content created each day, tech companies are scrambling to find automated ways to search and filter our bad content. However, what Roblox reminds us is that this is an imperfect science.
This entire ordeal brings to light a point that all parents need to realize: user-generated content is never safe. Unless there is a human screening everything before it is made available, bad content will slip through. This was even brought to light recently with the YouTube Kids app. Even with all of Google’s computing power, they couldn’t prevent bad user generated content from being placed in front of kids.
Living in a UGC World
When kids are under 13 years old, it is best that you limit their exposure to curated content. Examples of this would be sites that produce quality content like PBS Kids, National Geographic Kids, Noggin, and other similar sites. Exposing your children to sites that focus on UGC such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc… requires that you do a lot of additional work to prepare your children for what they may encounter.
Keep in mind this also includes video games. Popular games like Fortnite create a whole set of new challenges that parents have to address due to video and chat capabilities (which are another type of UGC).