News & Media
Kelowna, British Columbia - An international consulting firm that trains police in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom is touting Club Penguin (www.clubpenguin.com) as a fun and safe online experience for children.
Since 1997, DM Toddington and Company Ltd. has been providing advanced Internet-based intelligence support and training services to a wide range of law enforcement and related agencies in North America and Europe.
"Some of our specialized training programs deal with techniques and technologies employed by online predators to victimize children and we expose police personnel to some shocking and exploitative images easily accessible on the Internet," says David Toddington, a former police officer and founder of DM Toddington and Company Ltd.
In searching for a positive alternative to those negative aspects of the Internet, Toddington turned to his own children, who told him about Club Penguin, a virtual world where visitors play games and interact in the guise of colourful, animated penguins.
Toddington spent some time exploring the site and was so impressed he contacted the company about incorporating Club Penguin into DM Toddington and Company's training programs.
"Police personnel are frequently approached by parents asking where their kids can go in cyberspace and be safe. By teaching our students about Club Penguin and letting them waddle around the site, we give them a lighthearted break from what can be a pretty emotionally-draining course and provide them one more great resource they can suggest to parents.," says Toddington.
"Providing parents with peace of mind has been a priority for the Club Penguin team since day one. The fact is, we invest the majority of our company resources in our continuing efforts to make Club Penguin safer so when a group of former police officers with a proven expertise in the field of Internet safety singles out Club Penguin as a safe online destination for children, it feels pretty good!" says Club Penguin co-founder and CEO Lane Merrifield.
Club Penguin employs various tactics to ensure the safety of its young users.
When parents register their child for Club Penguin, they can choose from two different levels of chat. Ultimate Safe Chat users communicate by choosing from a predefined menu of greetings, questions, statements, emotes and actions.
Standard Safe Chat allows users to type their own messages, which go through a sophisticated filter system that blocks inappropriate or questionable words, phrases, codes or threads of conversation.
In addition, live moderators monitor what's going on in the world and deal with any reports of misconduct. Players who don't abide by the rules can be silenced or banned.
"Apart from the fact that we were tired of marketing aimed at young children and wanted Club Penguin to give kids a break from advertising, we also chose to remain ad-free for the safety it provides," says Merrifield. "In my experience, it often only takes a few clicks of the mouse to link from a children's website to something that's entirely inappropriate for a younger audience."
Club Penguin is designed for 6-14-year-olds but is open to children of all ages. Although the site is funded by subscriptions, you don't have to be a paying member to visit or play games.
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