When you go to purchase your child a Webkinz, you might be misled. This toy looks just like a stuffed animal. It is a stuffed animal, except there is a twist. This stuffed animal is really an online toy. Before you make this purchase, you should know a few things about the toy.
Playing with the Webkinz requires an Internet connection. If you don’t have the Internet in your house (and 45% of houses in America don’t) it won’t do you any good to buy a Webkinz. The stuffed animal is just a representation of the real game, played online.
Owning a Webkinz requires the owner’s time. Just like a real pet, this virtual pet requires that the owner spend time and money taking care of it. When you purchase the pet and enter its secret code into the website, the game starts. Your child will start out with $2000 in kinzcash. This money can be used to purchase toys, food, and medical care for the pet. After that $2000 dollars is gone, your child will need to get a “job” to pay for pet care. These jobs take the form of fun online games but your child will have to “work” for the money and this will take some time. Before buying the pet make sure you and your child understand the time commitment involved.
Buying a pet only allows you to play for one year. This is important to know. If your child really enjoys playing with his or her Webkinz, you will need to buy another Webkinz within one year (it’s a good thing they are cheapâ€”$10-$15 dollars). If the child cannot be online taking care of the pet, the pet will die (well, it doesn’t exactly dieâ€”it just ceases to exist). This means you have a decision to make: Keep buying Webkinz or kill your kid’s pet!
The personal information entered into Webkinz Studio is for your eyes only. When your child first logs onto the Webkinz’ site, they will go to the studio to name and make a picture of their pet. The studio can be used to take pictures or make movies of the virtual pet. There is no way to share this information. Even if your child invites friends to their Webkinz World, they will not be able to see what is posted in the studio.
Parents should know that there is a chat room feature. For good reason, most parents don’t want their elementary school children hanging out in Internet chat rooms. Some online chat rooms are places where predators hang out waiting to exploit innocent children. However, the chat rooms in Webkinz World are not likely to encourage predations. There are two chat rooms. KinzChat and KinzChat PLUS. In KinzChat, the kids are only allowed to select messages from options that are provided. There are no personal messages and the “club house” is 100% safe. In KinzChat PLUS, kids are able to enter personal messages. There are a number of controls that keep predators out of the chatrooms, but it may still make some parents nervous. You should decide before buying a Webkinz if you want your child exposed to chat rooms.
There is a Parent Account option with the Webkinz. If you are worried about exposing your child to online chat, you can set up a Parent Account and permanently block the KinzChat PLUS option. This option allows you to control which of the chat rooms that your child has access to.
If you choose to buy a Webkinz, realize that you will need to monitor your child as he or she plays on the Internet. Once kids are online, it is easy for them to surf to unsavory places. Webkinz world is a place where children will learn to be comfortable in an online environment. By giving your kids this toy your are encouraging them to develop online skills. That’s great as the world is increasingly an online place. You just want to be sure that while they are learning online skills, they are also learning online responsibility.