Children today live in a very different world than the one modern parents experienced when we were growing up. Technology evolves faster than we can keep up with, and computers and the internet are a reality in our kids’ lives whether we like it or not. For many parents, finding the right balance between helping our children get a grasp on technology, and keeping them safe from the dangers posed by the internet is a daily struggle. We want them to have the skills to succeed in a world that relies heavily on computer literacy, but we also need to protect them from the real threats of online predators and bullies, as well as ensuring they avoid exposure to unsuitable content.
Virtual games designed to stimulate learning and entertain within a safe, closely monitored environment provide a perfect introduction for children taking their first steps into the worldwide web. Games like Webkinz and Amazing World offer children the best of both worlds – safe entry into the internet.
Virtual games can provide many benefits to children. They foster independence and offer children an opportunity to learn basic computer skills at their own pace. Educational games engage children, introducing new concepts and reinforcing abilities through fun, interactive activities that feel more like play than learning.
So what should a parent look for when they want to offer their children a safe, guided entry into computers and online learning?
Websites that collect information from children under the age of thirteen are required to comply with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). COPPA provides strict guidelines regarding privacy and content that websites must adhere to. Webkinz and Amazing World are proudly COPPA-compliant, placing the safety and welfare of their players above all else. Chat features are carefully monitored to ensure that no personal information can be shared, and are filtered for inappropriate content. Parents have the ability to turn off chat features and third party advertising, and player information is not collected or shared. Parents can rest assured that children playing in Webkinz and Amazing World are in a secure online environment.
In games like Webkinz and Amazing World, children take responsibility for their ‘pets’ and ‘Zings’. In Webkinz World, children are introduced to an online economy, where they can earn virtual KinzCash and use it to provide a home for their pets. Kids are encouraged to do fun jobs and tasks. They learn to budget the currency they earn to purchase food and clothing for their pets, and furniture for their pets’ home. Knowing their pets depend on them gives children a sense of responsibility. When their pets are hungry or tired, their Pet Care Meters go down. Children can see in real time the cause and effect of making sure their pets have what they need to keep them happy and healthy.
While games like Webkinz and Amazing World provide unique, colorful backdrops, they also give children the freedom to create their own world the way they want to see it. Hundreds of meticulously designed items and clothing pieces are available, allowing children to decorate rooms in their own homes, mix and match outfits to express their own sense of style, and create their very own map of Webkinz World. The combinations are endless, and can be changed whenever a child chooses so that their homes and style can evolve and grow with them.
We all know children learn best when they are engaged. Websites like Webkinz and Amazing World provide children with opportunities to learn as they play. Webkinz offers a wide variety of gameplay. Games like ‘Booger Gets an A’ or ‘Quizzy’s World Challenge’ reinforce math and reading skills, while speed, matching and building games help develop hand/eye coordination and spacial reasoning skills. Kids are encouraged to take ‘classes’ at the Kinzville Academy that let them experiment with colors and shapes.
Computer games offer children the chance to take control, building their confidence and self-esteem. As they progress through the game and expand on their families and homes, they can see what they have achieved. In Webkinz and Amazing World, activities are self-directed, so kids can advance at their own pace through the game.
Many games give children the chance to be a part of a larger community. Filtered, monitored chat features let children interact with other players in safely. These first forays into the world of social networking can help introduce children to the idea that there is a whole world beyond their own home computer. Positive interactions in games like Webkinz and Amazing World can help build the groundwork for good online etiquette later in life. Amazing World offers team play where players learn to work together cooperate to reach a shared goal, while Webkinz gives players the opportunity to support each other through collection events and KinzPost, where they can send gifts and messages to other players.
While children and computers may seem like a scary prospect to some parents, the reality is that technology is here to stay. Virtual online games offer parents a safe way to introduce their kids to computers and the internet. As long as we do our research, stay involved, talk to our children about internet safety and etiquette, and monitor their online activity, virtual games can play a positive role in nurturing our kids to be responsible internet users. With our loving guidance and supervision, our kids will learn that technology can be an excellent tool to help them achieve longterm success.
To create an account for your child or learn more about Webkinz, visit webkinz.com
To create an account for your child or learn more about Amazing World, visit amazingworld.com