Lockerz is a new web site that is creating quite a buzz amongst young people, thanks to some very clever – some people might say annoying – viral marketing. The site apparently gives away free stuff – iPods, computer games, phone gear – and of course your average teenager is very interested in this kind of thing!
Your child’s social life (as in the face-to-face meeting of people) is already in decline thanks to endless hours “levelling” in World of Warcraft, so another few hours in front of the screen each day is probably not going to make much difference. But it is always good to know just what it is that your children are up to when they go online, so this article gives parents some basic information about Lockerz – what it is and what it says it is going to be.
(I am the parent of two teenage boys so I like to take an interest in this sort of thing.)
Joining Lockerz and email traps
First up you should know that, at this time, no one can join Lockerz without being invited by an existing member. The owners say that this is because the web site is under construction, but let’s face it: all web sites are under construction. It is already performing certain basic economic transactions and it already has a substantial membership, particularly amongst teenagers. So in reality Lockerz is an operating website, even if not all its buttons lead any place.
Furthermore, it is very easy to find an invite to join Lockerz simply by searching through Google. There are hundreds of pages with invite links out there (actually 162,000 pages when I checked today), so the invitation-only idea seems rather pointless... except, of course, that children have a natural drive and curiosity to explore places, particularly “secret” places, especially if there is “free stuff” there.
There are numerous reports on the web that many of the invite pages are email-harvesting traps – that the user’s email address is sent on to spammer’s mailing lists. If your child’s email box suddenly starts filling up with junk mail, there may be a problem.
Currently, invited members are able to help test the site, give feedback, and, of course, get that “free stuff”.
“Remember, pigs get fat - hogs get slaughtered.”
The sign-up process is straightforward. You fill in few personal fields, accept the terms and conditions, and away you go. Lockerz captured my zipcode/postcode, mobile phone number, gender, name, email address, and time zone. It also said I could give it my date of birth if I wanted to.
That means that people at Lockerz know approximately where I live and whether I am a boy or a girl. They also know how to phone me and how to send me email. This presents an opportunity, of course, for Lockerz and its trusted partners to target me with their age- and geographically-matched advertising offers.