Webkinz toys are stuffed animals, and if you don’t know better, you will think the Webkinz craze is the same as the beanie baby craze. It’s not though; Webkinz are plush toys like the beanie babies, but they are also online games. When kids get a Webkinz pet, they also get a secret code number which they use to play the online game. The game is similar to the popular SIMS games, only the child is responsible for the Webkinz instead of the SIMS family. The actual toy is just sort of a placeholder for what is going on online. Online, the pet can have everything a pet desires, or it can die of improper care. What happens to the pet is determined by what the child does online and how much money they are able to earn through playing video games (jobs).
Before buying your child a Webkinz toy you should go to the Webkinz website and find out what is involved. Read the information for parents on the site and decide if Webkinz is right for your family. It can be a great toy and an educational experience. However, if you would not buy your child a video game, you should not buy the Webkinz because Webkinz is a video game. Furthermore, it is a video game that requires the owner to play more video games to earn money to care for their pet.
If you feel like time might be an issue if you buy your child a Webkinz, you can consider some strategies before deciding about the toy. You might already have a time limit set for computer use. If your child wants a Webkinz, you can set him or her down and explain that they will have to take care of the pet online. Ask them how much of their current computer time they are willing to use caring for the pet. This will be a great way to teach responsibility and time management.
You can also have children earn the computer time. You might let your child earn a half hour of computer time by finishing their homework. They could also earn computer time by practicing an instrument or their sport or by doing household chores. The Internet doesn’t always need to be a struggle between parents and children. It can be a powerful motivator to get your child to do what you want!
Another thing to consider before purchasing a Webkinz is the chat room option. There are two chat rooms available on the website. KinzChat is a beginner chat room. Kids are not able to enter any personal information. Instead, they select from a menu of statements and responses, and they click on the one that they want to post. This is a great way of keeping kids safe when in a chat room.
One step towards the MySpace experience is the KinzChat PLUS area. In this chat room, kids do type in personal messages. The makers of the website have a number of features to keep kids safe. Still, you may not be comfortable with your 5 or 6-year-old child chatting with strangers in any capacity. There is a feature that only allows kids to use KinzChat PLUS after their parents have given permission. This is not a hard obstacle for a web savvy kid to get around because all they need is an email address and they can “be” the parent.
There is a parent control available on the website, and it is password protected. If you are worried that your child will access KinzChat PLUS without your permission, use the Parental Control. Your child will not even see a menu option to request permission to enter KinzChat PLUS.