What is Whyville?

by Barbara J. Feldman on November 25, 2009

With so many online gaming and social networking sites available, parents are often leery about which ones their children should join. Unfortunately with online predators, there is no such thing as a 100 percent safe social networking and gaming site. Whyville is one of the only web sites that offers educational tools and it is focused on teaching its users instead of just encouraging them to waste time online.

Whyville has been around since 1999 and it still has a strong following even though the competition from other social networking and gaming sites is intense. One complaint many of the users have about the site is that it is boring and not nearly efficient enough to keep up with the new technology. Even though Whyville may not look as impressive, it is one of the best social networking/gaming sites out there as far as education goes. Some of the educational activities include the following:

• Science
• Mathematics
• History
• Journalism
• Economics
• Civics

This is a great site for children to learn responsible behavior as they start to move toward higher education. It is a great way for children to learn things that would like to try as a career like becoming a veterinarian, a medical doctor, etc. It’s a fun and interactive way for children to learn about why things happen. Learning in a virtual world is often easier for some children to grasp hard or confusing concepts. Most children start to lose their interest in difficult topics like mathematics as they get older. Whyville focuses on helping children with those topics as they need them to become a valuable and productive member of society.

The games you participate in on this site are all designed to increase your knowledge. Unlike other online gaming sites, you don’t have to worry about a monthly membership fee to access the site. Whyville is free to use and supported by many organizations that are focused on education. NASA, Disney, the Center for Disease Control, and the National Science Foundation are all proud supporters of Whyville.

How can Whyville educate children online? The games they offer on their site are focused on educating the users and they do periodic testing before and after a user participates in a game to see if it increased their knowledge.

Whyville is designed for children aged six to sixteen. The sponsors are involved in making some of the games for the site to teach them valuable skills. NASA in particular has several games on their site that are designed to teach children and to help expand their knowledge when they are starting to think of different careers they may enjoy doing.

Like all other social networking and gaming sites, there is no real way to truly protect yourself from online predators. The site maintains a strong policy to try and keep some of the inappropriate behavior off their web site. They monitor the chat rooms to make sure foul language is not used and that users are not giving out their personal information. However it is up to the user to make sure they are not interacting with people they don’t know. Staying safe online is always a concern for parents. Whyville did receive an iParenting Media Award in 2006 that commemorated the sites efforts to keep children safe and to educate them.

The site is truly devoted to educating children through “communication and exploration.” The role playing opportunities and games definitely give children a broader education. Users are also involved in helping others by answering questions. You can also build your own avatar and then see off face parts for other avatars to use but you need to have a large build up of clams, which are seen as cash in the virtual world. It’s a great way to teach children how to wisely handle money and learn the basics of finance.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "What is Whyville?." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 25 Nov. 2009. Web. 19 Sep. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/617/what-is-whyville/ >.