Where should you be in the virtual world?
Second Life is a world of regions rated for persons of different ages.
Adult residents of Second Life age 18 and up can access the entire SL grid. They can move freely through tens of thousands of regions with content rated general, moderate or adult.
On the other hand, residents age 16-17 have access only to the several thousand SL regions rated general, which contain content appropriate for all ages. They are not able to enter regions labeled moderate or adult.
Residents age 13-15 are restricted to general lands operated by their sponsoring school or institution and are not able to enter any other regions.
There is no access to the SL grid for persons under 13.
The company that creates Second Life on the Internet – Linden Research Inc., operating as Linden Lab, at San Francisco – is very careful about which regions of the Second Life grid are available to children and teens.
They also are very careful about helping residents exercise control over their experiences. Any resident is able to exercise discretion over content seen, visited or used.
How old are you?
When you establish an account with Linden Lab, you have to reveal your birthdate and sometimes other information so they can verify your age.
If you are under 18 and in a moderate or adult region, you can count on virtually any resident you encounter turning you in to the age police. They will pounce on you so fast it will make your head spin, and you may not ever be allowed back on the grid after that.
Do the rules stifle personal creativity?
Second Life is a very open place. Residents are free to explore a broad diversity of creative pursuits.
The openness has fostered some amazing content. Linden Lab works to preserve that openness while at the same time ensuring individual residents can engage in a manner most suited to their needs and interests.
By enabling a resident to exercise control over her or his experience, Second Life is an open environment with each resident able to tailor the experience in such a way as to allow her or him to exercise discretion with certain content when it is appropriate to do so.
This does not affect the kinds of content that are permitted in Second Life, just how they can be accessed, and by whom.
General vs. Moderate vs. Adult
Land in SL is marked either general or moderate or adult. Those ratings are something like the ratings used by the movie and television industries to denote the age-appropriateness of behavior, language and creations.
- General areas are free from sexually explicit language or behavior, swearing and other forms of aggressive language, violent behavior and imagery, and horrific materials.
General regions are areas where you're free to say and do things that you would feel comfortable doing in front of your grandmother or a grade school class.
There are thousands of general areas in Second Life because adults often seek an experience free of moderate or adult content.
A region of Second Life may be general if it does not have content or activity that's sexually explicit, violent or depicts nudity. Sexually-oriented objects may not be located or sold in general regions.
- Moderate areas allow ordinary non-sexual non-violent adult language and behavior. That's a lower-case A in adult, not the same as in the adult regions described below. Moderate regions accommodate most of the activities that are common in Second Life.
For instance, social and dance clubs and bars that do not promote sexual conduct, stores and malls, galleries, music venues, beaches and parks, and other spaces for socializing, creating, and learning all can have a moderate designation so long as they don't host publicly promoted sexual or violent activities.
While exploring a moderate region, it should not be surprising to come across a couple lounging on a picnic blanket, snuggling by a blazing fire, cuddling on a faraway beach, hugging in a dress shop, kissing on a dance floor, or even walking or flying hand-in-hand.
Residents in moderate spaces should expect to see a variety of themes and content. For instance, stores might sell a range of content that includes some sexy clothing or objects. Dance clubs can feature "burlesque" acts so long as they don't promote overt sexual conduct.
Residents and visitors to moderate areas are free to engage in most activities and language. On the other hand, explicit adult content such as intimate touching must be kept private "behind closed doors," as they say, or in adult regions. Residents of moderate regions do not expect to see the performance of overt sexual activities or violence.
Explicit adult language should be spoken only in a private Instant Message (IM) and not in open chat. After all, open chat can be overheard by anyone within 20 meters of the speaker...as if you were standing in the open talking to whomever is around. On the other hand, IM is private conversation heard by no one other than the residents speaking to each other...like a private phone call.
If you can't decide whether your activity or content is allowed in a general region, then it's probably best kept to a moderate region.
- Adult areas allow sexually explicit or intensely violent displays and activities, or depictions of illicit drug use. Only age-verified residents over 18 who overtly elect to go there may travel into an adult region.
Adult activities include:
- Representations of intensely violent acts, whether or not photo-realistic – for example, depicting death, torture, dismemberment or other severe bodily harm;
- Photo-realistic nudity – photo-realistic means that an image either is or cannot be distinguished from a photograph;
- Expressly sexually-themed content, spaces or activities, whether or not photo-realistic – "sexually-themed" is broadly defined to include any sexually oriented activities and conduct.
Linden Lab has created a special-use adult continent, called Zindra, which is a mainland alternative where adult content and activities can be located and found by residents. Land rated adult is not found anywhere else on the SL grid.
Note: When a new Second Life account is registered, the default is general and moderate only. Any SL resident wishing to visit an adult region must take specific overt steps for age verification to gain access or even to receive adult search results.