What is a Child avatar?
Quite simply, a child avatar is any avatar that attempts to present as a youth. This is not limited to humans, and can include furries (referred to in this instance as "cubs" or "babyfur"), neko, vampires, and other avatar selections. Some doll avatars might also fit in this category.
This does not necessarily include fairies (which may be child-like in appearance, as well as smaller than the average avatar), tinies (although human baby-shaped tinies do exist), or those wearing gothic lolita and/or cosplay fashions and styles.
It should be noted that "child" does not exclusively mean "baby." Child avatars come in all ages, including older school aged children and teenagers.
Why play a child in Second Life?
There are a great many reasons to play a child within Second Life, and it is plenty likely that every person playing a child might have their own reasons. Here are six.
1. A way to recapture some of the spirit of youth. Much like the old Twilight Zone episode, "Kick The Can," it allows one to 'be' a child, and run and jump, and play unencumbered with the responsibilities of adulthood.
2. "Re-imagining" bad childhoods. Many SL kids have faced childhoods filled with illness or disability. Many (by no means all) were victims of sexual or other abuses as a child, and this is allowing them to "rewrite" some of those childhood experiences with much healthier ones.
3. Related to the above, many may also want to have childhoods they could not, with all the toys and goodies they may have been denied for some reason. Always wanted that Easy Bake Oven? Go buy or make it in SL. Want the big swingset, or a pony, or whatever? All yours for a few pennies.
4. For fun. It can be a fun type of character to play, allowing for a childlike innocence and whimsey to come to the forefront, and providing for many opportunities to be "silly" that might not otherwise feel comfortable in an adult avatar.
5. A few may feel more comfortable in the role of a child, for whatever reason. While some of these might fall under various "philia" subsets (adult babies, for example), not all do.
6. Some may simply enjoy the roleplaying challenge of playing a kid, which isn't always as easy as one might think.
7. Some avatars may specifically create a child avatar to "escape" from the sexual content in other areas of Second Life. This may include victims of RL child abuse or it may not.
What are Linden Lab's policies towards Child Avatars
The only material in the Linden Labs Terms of Service pertaining to child avatars is found in section 6.3(viii) of the Terms of Service. This prohibits sexualized situations involving child avatars, also known as "age play." This is further detailed in the Age Play Policy, found here: Linden Lab Official:Clarification of policy disallowing ageplay. At this time, there is no other content in the ToS pertaining to child avatars, such as prohibitions on general use, violent or graphic content, or language.
Policies towards child avatars are largely focused on the actions of the avatars, not the avatars themselves.
Child avatars are allowed within Second Life.1 A child avatar, even within a mature or adult region (but not participating in adult (in this case, sexual) ) activities is allowed. A child avatar is allowed do everything any other avatar is, with the following exceptions:
- Child avatars in sexual situations (sexual congress obviously, though it is unclear beyond this) are not allowed and abuse reportable (ARable).
- Public promotion (classified listing, profile, etc.) of sexual situations with child avatars is not allowed and ARable.
- Creating areas for the purpose of sexual ageplay is not allowed and is ARable. This includes having items with sexual content (sexual poseballs or equipment) in proximity to items traditionally associated with children (swingsets, etc.)
- Indicating that the *real age* of a child avatar (as opposed to a stated SL/role playing age) is below main grid age is not allowed and ARable.
- Child avatar nudity has been called into question as well. While no language specific to nudity was included in the initial policies, child avatar nudity of the genital or chest regions, including in otherwise non-sexual situations (skin vendors, for example) can be a violation. This also applies to parcel descriptions: nudity or "clothing optional" language can not be included in a parcel description on a kid-specific area.
Note that child avatars are allowed on PG, Mature, and even Adult public parcels, provided with the latter that they are adult verified. Note that this does not necessarily apply to private parcels where one has the option to eject or ban as desired. The allowance of child avatars on adult rated land such as Zindra does not invalidate any of the above rules.
As with all things, context is key, and err on the side of caution.
Please have also a look into "discussions".
Child avatars have also been discussed four times on the Second Life blog, each time refining policies towards child avatars.
- Accusations Regarding Child Pornography in Second Life
- Keeping Second Life Safe, Together
- Clarification of Policy Disallowing “Ageplay”
- Zindra: An Update (explains policy on child avatars on the "adult continent" of Zindra.)
A further statement from Lewis PR Linden on the Second Life Insider site gave further insight.
Of note from the above: There's nothing objectionable nor illegal in having a child-like avatar in itself and we must assume innocence until proof of the contrary.