All About Kids Website Club Penguin
What is Club Penguin?
Club Penguin is a gaming and social networking site for kids started in October 2005 by two fathers in British Columbia, Canada. The target audience 8-14-year-olds create a virtual life online, earning coins to purchase clothes, toys, and play games. They also interact - including romantically. They initiate relationships and practice breakups all without setting eyes on the beloved as there are no pictures or other identifying information allowed.
Aside from the gaming aspect, the biggest difference between Penguin and its counterparts for older kids (i.e. MySpace) is the focus on safety. Other social networking sites are geared toward teens and young adults and encourage sharing personal details. Kids watch older siblings online and want to be just like them, so Penguin was created to give them a safe place to play.
Other sites are vying for your ‘tweens' attention. Kids can play on http://www.nicktropolis.com/, http://www.whyville.net/, and http://www.habbo.com/. One nice thing about Penguin compared to its competitor ‘tween gaming sites is that Penguin generates all its revenue from subscriptions, which means no advertising. Decide for yourself if it's worth shelling out the subscription fee, but when I checked out Habbo, a banner ad displayed across the top of the screen for a movie about a killer in suburbia! Good fun for kids.
Should I Let My Kid on Club Penguin?
If you decide Club Penguin is safe enough then you've got a different decision to make. It's not so different from PopTarts and Mario Brothers. You just have to decide how much is enough. There's only so much time in a day. After homework, a little exercise, a meal, and maybe some TV or video games, how much time is really left? Do our supposedly overscheduled children really need another time consuming (possibly addictive) activity? Only you can answer for your child.
Then again, it's a changing world. Online relationships are a new social reality and we may as well teach our kids to navigate them just as we guide their real life interactions. Because this is the new real life. At least for now.
Check out this Newsweek story for more information and examples of Club Penguin use.
Is Club Penguin Safe?
As far as the Internet goes, this is about as safe as it gets. Club Penguin developers have gone to great lengths creating sophisticated software to keep the bad guys out as well as prevent kids from giving out any kind personal information. In addition to the software safeguards, Penguin has a human moderator, who can be accessed if a player feels another player is inappropriate. However, I'm pretty sure those predators are sneaky enough to make a kid do anything but hit the ‘Help' button.
Added Bonus: Parents have a lot of control of what their kids can say and see on Penguin.
Club Penguin is being hailed as a good example of a safe place online for kids. And they have been awarded Good Housekeeping's kid's privacy seal of approval. However, there's always some element of risk. For example, kids could be invited/lured by their ‘friends' to other sites where less innocent chats are not so heavily monitored.