Best Children’s Social Networks: Virtual Worlds– Virtual Sanity.
I tend to beat figurative dead horses. They stay still when they’re dead and make it easier to aim. The dead horse I am currently beating, or was until yesterday is Midwinter Vacation. Midwinter Break, another attempt by school administrators to make me crazy (-ier). I picture them in a meeting with a pie chart reading: “Driving Melissa Summers Crazy”.
“Okay everyone, we really pulled it out with a one-two punch in 2004 with the lice and summer vacation. But she’s getting more and more stable. How can we really up the crazy in the 06-07 school year?”
And it’s working. If they add a few more slices of pie to that chart to include: “Finding Exact Change For Milk Each Morning” and “Snow Day!” they’ll have whipped up a perfect brew of crazy.
Today I thought we would talk about the computer and things kids can do on the computer which may or may not combat the crazy for a few more hours. It depends how crazy you are.
Club Penguin is a safe, well monitored gaming (80% of Club Penguins staff is made up of safety personnel and moderators) and social networking site specifically tailored to kids. The site is ad free, which is nice since my children are pummeled over the head with advertising almost all the time. The site is supported by subscriptions (though limited free accounts are available).
You sign your child up in their own age group, and while parental monitoring is always wise when dealing with kids and the internet, Club Penguin has several safety features meant to keep your child safe from internet predators. Things like Ultimate Safe Chat, where your child can select from predefined menu of questions and answers and Standard Safe Chat where your child can type their own messages but these are carefully filtered (you can read about this feature here).
My 8 year old loves the chatting, games and collecting items for her penguin and his igloo. Club Penguin bought me many hours this Midwinter Break. My friend Andrea, with 3 girls five years old and under reports she was able to do laundry, run on the treadmill, put in some work hours and balance her checkbook while her girls were enthralled with Club Penguin.
I, on the other hand, with just two kids 5 and older managed to enjoy the silence while my children were enthralled with Club Penguin.
I first heard about Webkinz from Danielle at Foodmomiac and then yesterday the nurse at our pediatrician brought it up and later that day I heard from a friend who recommended it as a birthday gift for Max’s upcoming birthday. I think someone’s trying to tell me something.
You purchase a Webkinz animal at the store for about $10, the toy comes with a special code you enter on the Webkinz site. Your child then cares for their virtual animal online, keeping them happy and healthy. It sounds a lot like the virtual pet on a keyboard my children begged for and yet, can’t seem to keep alive. Maybe because hitting buttons is sort of, I don’t know, boring?
In the virtual Webkinz world though you earn money to buy food, toys and pet supplies by playing games, doing odd jobs and answering questions from categories like math, science or reading. Your child also creates friend’s lists so they can chat and compete with friends online. And like Club Penguin’s Ultimate Safe Chat, to keep perverts away your child selects chat subjects and pre-written sentences, questions and answers only.
My daughter has so many stuffed animals which continually sit in a basket never looked at or played with, at least until she sees me bagging them up for the Salvation Army. Suddenly they’re her best friends. Her best friends she keeps crushed in a large basket. I love the idea of a stuffed animal which will engage her in another way….and no Go Go My Walking Pup doesn’t count as ‘Engaging’.
What interactive sites do your children enjoy playing on?