August 25, 2011
Let’s face it, kids can use Facebook to do many good things. However, it’s not for everyone, especially young kids who know how to use today’s technology but who do not meet the Facebook minimum user age requirement of 13.
So, where can young kids go to not only build fine motor and mental skills but to have some fun within a safe online social community? One of the more established Internet destinations that I think that parents and kids will both find secure, educational, and entertaining is Webkinz World, which originally was launched by Ganz in 2005.
Available today in 14 diverse foreign languages ranging from English to Romanian, Webkinz was the first company of its kind to offer an original online world for kids. At the time it was introduced the concept was novel, bridging all the fun and fuzziness of small plush collectible animals with a web-enabled counterpart suitable and safe for computer savvy young kids to play with.
In case you are not already familiar with Webkinz, this is how it works. To participate in the community, a child simply adopts a pet by purchasing one of the physical stuffed animal characters that are available. Next, he uses the unique online access code that came with the product to log on the Webkinz site to create a virtual kid-friendly parallel world for his little animal friend. The world includes games, educational activities, and a safe email environment.
There are also opportunities to earn virtual Webkinz currency so that a little one can “buy” things to clothe, feed and care for their virtual pet, as well as create rooms for their creature. In addition to this aspect of teaching kids fiscal responsibility about how to earn, spend, and save money. There is also the educational element where boys and girls can challenge their minds by taking quizzes and answering questions to earn pretend income.
One of the things most moms and dads will really appreciate about this community is the safe Webkinz chat area where kids select from pre-written questions to “talk” to others without revealing their real names or actual email addresses.
Certainly, this branded community for grade school age children is one of the most creative, built-out and successful of all interactive communities in its niche. Other safe social communities for young kids include Moshi Monsters, Stardoll and Club Penguin.