Leading Internet safety expert endorses Club Penguin



    KELOWNA, BC, March 1 /CNW/ - 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.
    Club Penguin also adheres to a strict privacy policy and includes no
advertising.
    "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 8-14-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.

    
                             Club Penguin Q & A
                             ------------------
    

    What is Club Penguin?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Club Penguin is a virtual world where children can play games, have fun
    and interact with each other.

    How does it work?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Each player chooses a penguin, gives it an identity, and explores Club
    Penguin, interacting with other penguins by chatting, playing games,
    sending greeting cards, or using emotes (emotion icons) and actions
    (i.e. wave, dance, sit, walk or throw a snowball). By helping other
    participants and playing games, players earn virtual coins that allow
    them to buy clothing and accessories for their penguin or furniture for
    their igloo.

    Who is Club Penguin for?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Club Penguin is designed for 8-14 year olds, but is open to children of
    all ages.

    Why did you create Club Penguin?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chatting and gaming are the most popular online activities for children,
    yet most products are geared to older teens and adults. As parents of
    young children, we wanted to create a fun, online world we'd be
    comfortable letting our own kids visit.

    Is it safe?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In order to ensure the safest possible environment we created two chat
    options:

    Ultimate Safe Chat is the perfect solution for parents seeking the
    ultimate in online safety. This option limits what users can say to a
    predefined menu of greetings, questions, and statements, as well as
    emotes, actions and greeting cards. When it comes to chatting, these
    users can only see other Ultimate Safe Chat messages.

    Standard Safe Chat allows players to type their own messages to other
    users. Every message that is typed first goes through a sophisticated
    filter which blocks inappropriate words and phrases. Club Penguin's
    filter also breaks up words and phrases phonetically in order to decipher
    and catch codes or other methods players might use in an attempt to get
    past the system. This added component allows the filter to block attempts
    to communicate a phone number or other personal information.

    Although the filter is continuously updated, comments that could be
    offensive to some players may occasionally get through. In order to limit
    that and further protect the security of Standard Safe Chat participants,
    moderators monitor what's going on and receive player reports of
    misconduct. An "M" icon on the upper, right-hand portion of the screen
    reminds participants a moderator is available to help. Players who engage
    in inappropriate behavior can be silenced or banned.

    I've heard a lot about MySpace. How does Club Penguin compare?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    While both sites offer forms of so-called "social networking", MySpace
    provides a forum for its users to post photos and other identifying
    personal information. Club Penguin strongly discourages the posting of
    any personal information and has a range of technological and human
    safeguards in place to ensure those details cannot get through.
    (See "Is it safe?")

    Are my child's personal details safe with Club Penguin?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Yes. Club Penguin has a strict Privacy Policy. We voluntarily conform to
    the U.S. Department of Commerce's Safe Harbor Principles and the Canadian
    Code of Practice.

    Does it cost anything to join Club Penguin?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Although anyone can enjoy Club Penguin free of charge, they won't have
    the same privileges as paying members, such as buying clothing or
    decorating their own igloo.

    Memberships cost $5.95 per month, however, reduced rates are available
    with six-month or one year memberships. These can be purchased online
    with Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, check, money order, or through numerous
    pay by cash options.

    Why charge anything at all?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Instead of financing our operations through advertising as most websites
    do, Club Penguin relies solely on paid memberships. By remaining ad-free,
    we can provide our users a safe haven from marketing.

    How is Club Penguin making a difference?
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Approximately 10% of proceeds from each Club Penguin membership support
    organizations that work on behalf of the world's youngest and most
    vulnerable citizens. Our Kids Helping Kids program allows Club Penguin
    members to play a role in securing a happier and healthier future for
    other children around the globe.





For further information:

For further information: Karen Mason, Communications Director, Club
Penguin, (250) 764-6222, karen@clubpenguin.com, www.clubpenguin.com

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