(“Iffy” means “somewhat edgy for the age.”) For me, what’s most disturbing about the site is the strong sexual undercurrent of the whole thing.
The buxom female avatars in scanty clothing give me the willies, especially when I think that my 14-year-old babysitter could be behind one of them.
The website is called IMVU, a realistic Sims-like game and social networking virtual world purported to be for kids ages 13 and up.
Over time, Green found the software wasn't just useful for tracking his daughter's behavior; it also helped him discover more about the nature of his child.
"It's good to know how she's treating people and how others are treating her," Green said.
Among more innocent activities, avatars can kiss, cuddle, and make out with each other (with a credit card, you can purchase a “mature access” pass where they can actually simulate sexual activity.) If 13 sounds a little young to be engaging in this kind of virtual world, you’re not alone.
Common Sense Media, a non-profit media rating site for parents, gives IMVU an “iffy for ages 15-18” rating.
Bob Lotter, the company's CEO, said he never imagined the software would become a tool for authorities cracking down on online sexual predators. "There are so many different ways out there for child predators [to find victims] -- through Google, Yahoo, My Space, Facebook and a host of other sites." A Lakewood, Colorado, woman said she outfitted her 12-year-old daughter's phone with monitoring software after the girl was sexually assaulted by a man she met on Moco Space, a mobile chat network.
"I wasn't going to take away her cell phone, and I knew I had to do something," said the woman, whose first name is Wendy."I think it's a caring father that wants to know what's going on in her life ...wanting to know how she feels." When Green's daughter discovered the software on her phone, she wasn't angry, he said.Any unauthorized number that contacts the child's phone gets flagged, and the parent or guardian receives a real-time text message alerting them to the infraction.Parents pay a monthly fee -- about -- for the service, which only works on so-called "smart phones" with Web access.is not printing her last name in accordance with its policy of not identifying the victims of sexual assault.