The people who help protect kids in virtual worlds have noticed an interesting trend: More and more kids are posting news, cheats (workarounds), and pictures from their favorite online worlds and games in their own blogs. "Essentially, the kids act as reporters for the virtual world by taking screenshots of parties and events in addition to reporting on various issues," writes Chase Straight in … [Read more...] about Fledgling star reporters in kids’ virtual worlds
By Sharon Duke EstroffAmong the cardinal (albeit unfortunate) rules of the schoolyard social jungle is that the more cool, expensive stuff you have, the higher you climb on the food chain. And what kid doesn’t wish to become king or queen of the jungle? Children’s virtual worlds like Barbie Girls understand this fundamental truth about their target audience, so they lay the groundwork for a social … [Read more...] about Undercover Mom in BarbieGirls, Part 4: Peer pressure to pay up
By Sharon Duke EstroffThe vast majority of children’s virtual worlds (and certainly the materialistic pinkpalooza at BarbieGirls.com) are commercial – not public-interest ¬endeavors. So while these Web sites may have excellent intentions in creating safe, kid-friendly online playspaces, they are, at the end of the day, in it for the money, of course. Some virtual worlds (like Nickelodeon’s … [Read more...] about Undercover Mom in BarbieGirls.com, Part 3: To pay or not to pay?
Heard of Spineworld? I hadn't. But a 10-year-old I know told me he's seeing it everywhere in his circles. Now we know from UK-based market researcher K Zero that its population (registered users) has more than doubled since first quarter '09, from 1 million then to 2.8 million now, according to VirtualWorldsNews. Overall, "the total number of registered accounts in the virtual worlds sector … [Read more...] about More on virtual world growth
By Sharon Duke EstroffThis week’s post continues detailing my investigation of Barbie Girls, and the crown jewels and skeletons in the closet that I uncovered there.Crown jewel: Number-blocking filtersPart of the appeal of children's virtual worlds like BarbieGirls.com exists in their conversational filters, one of the most notable functions of which is weeding out mention of any specific numbers … [Read more...] about Undercover Mom in BarbieGirls.com, Part 2: Talking numbers