This is not actually something that happened to me in a PUG, but to Daraxxus.
He was plugging along in a PUG and getting annoyed at a dps player who was running around and picking up mobs, asking for loot to be set to free for all (so he could grab it all) and generally being a twit. The rest of the group let him know how they feel about this. And the kicker? Later on in the instance, the actual player gets back to the keyboard and tells them that he was letting his little brother play his character, and gets upset at how the group spoke to him.
This is not the first time I’ve heard of a similar occurrence. I’ve heard of parents letting their kids play their toon in an instance while they watched, unaccompanied 9 year olds wandering the landscape, and people generally treating the game as if it was childcare.
Now here is the thing: I’m not a childcare professional, neither are most other players, and even if we were, why would we do it for free? I also can’t be responsible for what anyone in the group says to a kid when they have no way to know it was a kid. (And some people would be gits and upset the kid anyway because they don’t believe them about their age; and to make it worse, there really are people who would pretend to be 9 year olds just to annoy everyone else.)
I’m not in the business of telling other people how to bring up their children, and it’s great when families can share their hobbies. But if you let your 5 year old play in my group, then you really need to sort out your priorities. I can see how it happens – oh, little Timmy wants to play with daddy’s computer game! Well, hey, wouldn’t it be cool if he could do that and *eyes light up* I could get my frost badges at the same time? No, it would not be cool because you are abusing the trust of other players who didn’t sign up for childminding.
That is even without considering privacy issues, or grooming issues, or any of the other really great reasons why just because your child is sitting safely in their room, it does not mean that they are actually safe.
I think it would be terribly easy for a precocious 9 year old to never be outed. And I’m quite sure that they could play the game competently. But the rest of the playerbase can barely be civil to each other. Even if they were all nice people AND registered childminders, how can they moderate what they say to a kid when they don’t even know they are talking to a minor?
There are some pretty cool MMOs which are actually aimed at kids. Games like Free Realms, Wizard 101, Club Penguin et al have a lot more protection built in and also have a much better chance of the kid to be able to meet other kids. They also tend to be much cheaper than WoW. Think about it before you decide to bring little Timmy into a heroic instance group.