Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kids & Money (WebKinz)

My 7 year old daughter recently received a ‘Webkinz’ toy as a birthday gift. I had never heard of this product up until then. When she started asking me about getting access to the ‘Webkinz World’ website, with her ‘secret code’, naturally, my curiosity was aroused.

So, we logged on to the site and we went through the process of registering. This included naming and ‘adopting’ the virtual equivalent of her stuffed toy. Once this procedure was finalised, she now had access to a whole new virtual world that had its own economy and currency.

Her virtual pet is given its own empty room and she is also allocated a small budget of ‘KinzCash’. The first thing she did with the money was going shopping for food, clothes and furniture.

She did not have enough money to buy all that she wanted so she had to ‘earn’ some more by partaking in daily work activities, answering general knowledge questions or playing on-line games. The work activities generate the most cash but, if you can’t do them correctly you don’t get paid and you have to wait 8 hours before you can have another go at them.

I left her log on for a few days on her own and when I revisited the site with her she had ‘earned’ more money and bought some additional items for the pet. There are three ‘barometers’ relating to the way the pet is feeling which are viewable when you log on. If the pet is hungry or unhappy, the barometer tells her this and she decides then what she must do about it, ie. buy food and feed the pet .

Her next step was to find out about adding a yard so that the virtual pet could play outside. She found out that it would cost ‘KC’1,000 to add the yard so now that is her target for the money she is earning and saving. We also had a look at what she had bought already and decided that there was no need for multiple clothing and footwear items. She decided to sell some of these and the money was credited to her account.

This is where we are, to date. She nearly has the 1,000 for the yard but I am not sure that she realises that she will have to fit it out with a pool etc. and that this will require a lot more money.

I like the idea that she is learning about responsibility for her virtual pet (keeping the pet happy and fed) and earning money to pay for things that she needs. I particularly like the concept of ‘selling’ the excess clothing and footwear because, she realised that it was not needed and the refunded money was more important for the yard project.

I am sure that we have a lot more to learn about this virtual world and that there may be some concerns about usage. For the time being it’s supervised fun and as soon as I have an update on our progress I will let you know.


Pat said...

A lot of the Nintendo DS games have the same concept, s.a. Dogs, Pippa Funnell etc. At least this does not have the online danger potential that logging on to any site might have. I recently logged onto the Official Pirates of the Carribbean site for my son(who is 9), went to make a cuppa and returned to find him typing Pirate into Google. I must say that I didn't think that all the results might be great! However, they have to learn what this great resource is about. I think that girls in particular like the Nintendo, parents think it is not too bad either(!).

Gerard said...

Hi Pat,

She has the Nintendo also but she seems to be very eager about this Webkinz World. She insisted on coming with me to an internet cafe in Tenerife when I was checking my e-mails, last week. She is still on holiday there with her mom and sister and I have been given the task of checking in on her pet, from time to time, until she returns. I will suss out her opinions on the DS V's Webkinz and report back. Perhaps it's just that it's 'new'(?)