Webkinz: The Wonderful World of Webkinz
If you haven't yet heard of Webkinz, you may be amazed to know about the popularity of these combination plush toys and online virtual pets. Made by the famous toy maker Ganz, Webkinz are an entire collection of various types of animals ranging from alley cats to various breeds of dogs and horses and into the more exotic with bats, Bengal tigers and dolphins and unicorns.
Webkinz Cocoa Dinosaur
Webkinz Clown Fish
What Makes Webkinz Different?
The unique thing about the Webkinz products is they are both fanciful and realistic. It is easy to see that the toy is supposed to represent, be it a hippo, kangaroo or a gecko, plus the colors are very realistic right down to the standard coat pattern of the German Shepherd puppy toy. For those kids that enjoy the more fanciful side of toys, there is also the Pink Poodle and the Sherbet Bunny, just to name a few. There are several different collections of Webkinz toys, some which are now officially retired and are considered highly collectible.
Each pet comes with both an exclusive present that can be used with the pet or in combination with other Webkinz plush toys as well as some information about the pet. Instead of buying a pet or toy, Webkinz works with an adoption type marketing, allowing the child to feel very responsible and grown up in caring for their new toy and friend. Each pet also has a favorite food that is indicated with the toy. Some of the creative ideas for the pets "food" include Doggie Bone Burgers for the American Cocker Spaniel and Roasted Mousemallows for the Charcoal Cat.
Webkinz Himalayan Cat
Webkinz’ Online Side
Each one of the Webkinz toys comes with a special and unique access code within the gift box. This code can be used by the child to access the online games and activities that are available on the Webkinz website, known as Webkinz World. This website allows kids to interact with each other in a secure and monitored site, as well as keep tabs on their virtual pets. Each virtual pet needs to be fed and cared for, just like other types of virtual pets and animals. The child, with or without the help of the parents, can adopt an online pet, set up a room to keep their pet and even invite other friends to play games and activities in the room or within the Webkinz site, provided the child also has a unique access code they obtained with a Webkinz plush toy. The goal of Webkinz World is to allow the kids to interact with their toys in more of a real world setting, something that both children and adults can really enjoy.
Webkinz virtual pets have all the requirements of a real pet, they can get sick and need to be taken to the virtual Clinic for treatment, plus they can also become ill if they are not fed, fed unhealthy things or are not exercised or attended to. While this may not be the same as having a real live pet, it does help children understand the responsibilities of caring for something. The Webkinz virtual pets do not ever die, which prevents parents from having to explain that issue to children.
In addition to just having a virtual pet, kids can develop their creative side by designing living spaces for their virtual pets. They can add rooms, furniture and even wallpaper and flooring to the rooms to really personalize the space. They can also win prizes for various competitions and activities in the Webkinz World that typically result in additional KinzCash. KinzCash can be used as a currency in the virtual world to add those finishing and special touches to your child's pet rooms or even to buy toys and treats for the virtual pet.
Webkinz Clydesdale Horse
The Benefits Of Webkinz World
Not only does Webkinz provide the child the opportunity to care for something as well as spend time in a safe online environment, the child is also able to earn virtual KinzCash, which can be used to purchase items for the virtual pets. Children earn KinzCash through a variety of activities including playing math and spelling games, reading, answering current events questions that are geared to different age groups and playing games on the Webkinz site. Most are educational, adding fun to spelling, arithmetic, logical thinking and even keyboarding skills.
Through the use of virtual money or KinzCash, children also learn how to budget, how to plan ahead and how to learn to add and subtract to ensure they have enough funds to pay for all the basic requirements their online pet needs. Since the site is customized based on the age of the child, the games, tournaments, activities and even the various questions included in the trivia sections are all geared appropriately, allowing children to build confidence and academic skills in a fun and non-competitive environment. For those kids that want to enjoy some fun competition and games there are tournament rooms and arcades, more geared towards perfecting skills once the child has a good foundation.
In addition to the online virtual pet site, Webkinz now produced trading cards that can be used in games, as trading cards as well as in sets or individually as collectables.
Monitoring Your Child in Webkinz World
One of the main safety features of Webkinz World is that the KinzChat system is made up of pre-developed statements from which the children can select. They are not able to simply type in anything they wish to say, which means that there is no chance that personal information can be exchanged or inappropriate content entered into the room. This also makes the system secure and safe in the event that any adult was attempting to pose as a child or obtain information about a child or his or her location.
There is a more open chat system in an area of Webkinz World known as the Clubhouse. In the Clubhouse parents can give consent for their child to chat more directly through a message system known as KinzChat Plus. Parents have to provide an email from their account that allows the child access, but even in this system there is a restricted dictionary that blocks most common names, addresses, numbers, cities and locations as well as words that are considered to be inappropriate or potentially problematic. Parents also have the option to block their child from entering this area through a series of parental controls, similar to that used as online filters on computers, even if the parent has given consent. Any messages that contain inappropriate or restricted information will not be sent through the system, however children may be able to still communicate some information and parental monitoring is always recommended in the site.
How Long Does Membership Last?
From the day that the parent and child first set up the online account in the Webkinz World the membership lasts one year to the online site. If before those 365 days is up the child adopts another real plush Webkinz pet and obtains a new code, the existing pet, room and the new pet that will be adopted online can be combined. If the child doesn't adopt a new plush toy and set up the new account prior to the year, the existing pet and room will no longer be accessible, but the child can start over with a new pet through the new code.
Kids can add virtual pets as companions, invite their online friend's pets over to visit and all types of other online activities. Of course they also have their own real stuffed Webkinz pet to play with and interact with for those days and times when the playing on the computer is not the best option.
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