“Become rich and famous” – this is the slogan with which the game MovieStarPlanet advertises. For teenagers, the world of the “rich and famous” can be tempting. In this online game, they can create their own “movie star” and socialize with others. However, this is not always unproblematic.
MovieStarPlanet is especially popular with children and allows them to represent themselves, play and interact with others. It is both a game and a social network, and making new contacts plays an important role. Registration is free of charge. All you need is a username and password. The age of a user is not checked. Then you choose your own avatar (in the form of a boy or girl) and design it yourself or based on the MovieStarPlanet selection options. In various virtual rooms, users play games such as a “beauty contest” with other users and collect virtual money to buy new clothes and become more famous, for example. By collecting so-called “StarCoins” you can buy many options and products. This includes expensive clothes as well as props and animations, e.g. for self-created videos. This allows you to increase your own popularity within the game. The virtual StarCoins can also be bought with real money.
Since the age information of the users is not checked, it is possible to register even with a wrong age and you never know who is hiding behind a profile. Your child can’t be sure who they are really chatting with. There is a risk of cyberbullying and cybergrooming.
Many features of the game are associated with costs through so-called in-app purchases. This can make the game an expensive affair. It can also be frustrating to not be able to use content in the game because it has to be unlocked for money first. If you don’t want to spend real money, you can also unlock content by playing especially regularly. Thus, users are encouraged to be online as often as possible in order to keep up with the other players and become more popular.
The image of women at MovieStarPlanet is also questionable; the avatars embody stereotypical and sexualized role models. Female avatars mostly wear very skimpy clothes and are often belly-baring with long hair and red lips. Judging other players and increasing notoriety within the game through superficialities like expensive, trendy clothing is also critical and can put pressure on your child.
According to the provider, the game is intended primarily for children and teenagers aged 8 to 15. MovieStarPlanet operators are aware of the risks, which is why there are various security measures in the game. Among other things, there is the possibility to report other users. There is also automated analytics and a data management system designed to identify inappropriate behavior and report it to moderators.
Parents should be aware of the potential dangers in the offer. It is important that you accompany your child. Point out to communicate only with friends who are also known in real life and in no case to reveal personal information about yourself. Also, reassure your child that he or she can always turn to you should he or she be confronted with unpleasant or funny content or messages. Talk to your child about reporting and blocking features before using the service.
Please agree on rules for in-app purchases together with your child, or prevent them, for example, by making sure that your child does not make any in-app purchases. do not store any payment data or prevent in-app purchases on your child’s cell phone through special parental control settings.