Friday, July 24, 2009

Online Games for Children

In today’s world, the internet is part of our everyday lives. There are literally hundreds of games that are available to play online, but how many of them are safe for children? While many online games are directed at teens and adults, there are many that are directed to younger children under 13. These games usually help children learn about internet safety and how to interact with others, and most have messages about education, the environment or about cultural diversity. Here is a list of games that are safe for children that both the child and the parent will like!

1. Club Penguin – Disney’s Club Penguin lets your child create their own penguin character to explore the virtual world and interact with other players from around the globe. There are many games based around the island that can be played alone or be played with friends. Players can earn coins to buy different clothing and accessories for the penguins or to buy their very own pet to care and look after. Club Penguin is an intro to social networking and uses many safety features, like having a very flexible language filter to stop vulgar language and requiring a parental email account to let them know that their child is playing the game. Memberships are available to access more content and games.

2. Buildabearville¬ – Build-a-Bear Workshop’s Buildabearville is an interactive world where you can bring your stuffed animal friend to life! Play games with other players and your furry friends to ear bear bills to buy new cloths for your avatar or your bear or even a pair of rollerblades or a skateboard to help get you from place to place faster. The game only allows pre-approved words to be said, so there is no chance your child should ever come across bad language. The game also has parental controls to restrict the child’s interaction with other players if the parent chooses to do so.

3. Webkinz – Webkinz is a virtual world where the Webkinz toy you bought in store is brought to life in an interactive world. Players can play games, do jobs and other activities to earn KinzCash that can then be used to buy food for your pet, buy furniture for their room or their pets’ room and other accessories. Players can feed, pet, groom and play with their Webkinz and invite other players to their house to play games and chat. Parents can chose whether to allow a safe chat that uses a language filter, or only allow pre-approved words and phrases from a list to communicate with other players.

4. Neopets – Set in the virtual world of Neopia, players can adopt their very own Neopet to take care of. Players can play a multitude of games to earn neopoints, which can be used to buy food to feed their neopets, furniture for their homes, play other games and much more. The game itself has very little chat involved, and the chat that does exist is always moderated. Players can even make their own shops to display the items they have collected throughout the game, and players can even pit their neopet against each another for added fun. The game is constantly expanding with new areas, items and games for everyone to play.

5. ToonTown – Another of Disney’s games, ToonTown allows children and families to defend the world from the evil robot Cogs. To progress in the game, players must complete tasks and quests they receive, such as defeating a group of Cogs or by helping lower level players. Players use slap-stick style gags to defeat the Cogs and gain experience points which allows for more powerful gags to be unlocked. Players can also compete in a multitude of minigames either against a computer opponent or friends such as minigolf or tag to obtain jellybeans which act as the in-game currency. To protect children, ToonTown uses three sets of chat modes:
a. Speed Chat, which only allows the player to communicate using pre-approved words and phrases.
b. Speed Chat Plus, which allows a player to use any words that are in the Disney approved dictionary. This allows players to have logical conversation and allows for greater coordination.
c. True Friend Chat requires players to receive a six digit code from each other. True Friend Chat is like Speed Chat Plus where the players can use words that are from the Disney approved dictionary, but only that player can see what is being typed. To other players, it appears as gibberish and animal noises like barking or meowing.
The Parent can change these setting any time by accessing the parental controls. ToonTown does have a subscription option to allow the player greater access to the game like their own house, additional clothing customization and higher character levels.

5. KidZui
Not exactly a game site, more of the Internet for kids. Everything from approved Youtube videos to their favorite sites and games (including those I listed above).
The kids can share their favorite sites and videos, without being able to share personal information. They have a great free version and an even better paid subscription. Comcast just added a special version fot ehri subscribers.

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