Disney unveils Club Penguin child internet safety campaign
05 July 2012
Disney is launching a $4.7m internet safety campaign based around Club Penguin, aimed at children and parents, across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The campaign, which aims to reach up to 100 million children and parents, follows the recent pedophilia scandal surrounding Saluke’s Habbo Hotel virtual world and will run over TV, websites, magazines and on Club Penguin itself.
The initiative was announced at the Children’s Media Conference in the UK by Club Penguin co-founder and Disney Online Studios executive vice-president Lane Merrifield.
Club Penguin is an online virtual world aimed at children and has had 175 million accounts created since its launch. It is credited as being the largest virtual space created specifically for children, making it a target for sexual predators.
"Education is the final piece of the puzzle in terms of kids' safety online,” says Merrifield. “As an industry I think we can help teach kids the lessons that they need to become responsible digital citizens.”
In June, the UK’s Channel 4 uncovered “sexual, perverse, violent and pornographic” conversations occurring on Habbo Hotel, one of Club Penguin’s major rivals. The revelation caused venture capital firm Balderton to offload its 13.5% stake in the developers and retailers in the UK pulled Habbo Hotel gift cards from sale.
Club Penguin launched in 2005 and was acquired by Disney 2007 for $350m. Child safety was one of the core focuses of the developers of the game and the virtual world includes filters preventing personal information being sent out, moderators and veteran players who patrol the game and an “Ultimate Safe Chat” mode where users can only select their messages from a pre-defined menu.
M&M Global recently carried out an industry expert round-table entitled ‘Targeting Tweens’. Check out the video here.
David Hing, London