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Webkinz.com Review

A Kid-Friendly Virtual World

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 3.5 Star Rating (4 Reviews)

By

For those who haven’t yet become Webkinz.com parents, Webkinz are small stuffed animals. Each one comes with a special code that allows you to “adopt” the animal online in a virtual community called "Webkinz World." Once adopted, Webkinz can make friends online, take classes, get a job, play games and more. Kids care for their Webkinz by providing food and drink, and giving them lots of attention. Let's review some of the best (and worst) aspects of Webkinz World.

Why Kids Love Webkinz World

Webkinz World is a bright, colorful place filled with cute animals, simple video games, chat areas, shopping malls and more. Some kids may enjoy chatting with each other and shopping for clothes for their virtual Webkinz. Others may play games to earn money to add to the houses where their Webkinz live. Kids actually enjoy working towards financial and educational goals on the site and will spend as many hours as you allow exploring and playing.

Why Parents Love Webkinz World

One of the most appealing aspects of Webkinz World from a parental point of view is a focus on safety. There are very few ways for players to interact with each other. One of those is via chat rooms called “Clubhouses”. Parents can choose between two Clubhouses for their children. The first is geared towards younger members. Players can interact with each other through a menu of phrases and actions. The second Clubhouse allows players to type their own phrases, but filters out inappropriate content.

In addition to the safety considerations, Webkinz World encourages kids to participate in a full-fledged society. They can enroll in classes to earn special badges, but must complete a set number of courses before they “graduate.” This helps them understand the importance of delayed gratification. Players can also buy fun clothes, furniture, food, and toys for their pets, but must save up their money to do so. Since real Webkinz cost “real” money, parents can draw parallels between their kids’ online saving and their offline piggy banks.

What's Not Lovable About Webkinz World

Perhaps the biggest drawback to the site is that it is a controlled commercial environment. You need to purchase a Webkinz stuffed animal to log on and there is some pressure once there to purchase more Webkinz dolls and products. There is at least one area of the site that is inaccessible if you haven’t purchased additional items. Links to a search tool to find local stores that sell Webkinz encourages real-life shopping. There are other incentives for purchasing certain Webkinz, such as prizes for owning the “Pet of the Month.” In addition, there are some external advertisers present in the world. Luckily, they are limited and blend well with the rest of the in-game "advertisements" (they advertise activities that take place within Webkinz.com) so kids may not even notice them.

Webkinz World at a Glance

Pros
  • Designed for and appeals to children
  • A nice range of games and activities will appeal to a variety of kids
  • Strong safety controls in place
Cons
  • Kids can be competitive over the number of pets they own
  • Kids are encouraged to add to their Webkinz collections and you can’t access certain areas of the site without purchasing additional items
  • Kids must enter a new Webkinz code at least once a year to keep their accounts active.
  • External advertisements, despite the "premium" nature of the site (having to purchase an item to gain access)

Webkinz.com gets high marks for creating appropriate content, safe chat tools and an appealing environment for kids. The site loses a star for some unnecessary commercial aspects (including the "find the nearest store" icon that is ever present, and the items that are inaccessible without additional purchases) and the presence of external advertising.

* This Webkinz World review was edited on 12/19/2007 due to the addition of external advertisers on the Webkinz World website.

User Reviews

 1 out of 5
fun site but.., Member Sarah123321

My daughter needed help getting access to her account after a few years so I called customer service. The woman was extremely rude. She took all my information then proceeded to say I wasn't her mother. She asked to speak to my daughter and she told her that her acctually mother needed to call her back or her account would be deactivated. It was the rudest customer service I have ever recieved. The womens name was Rebecca I believe, she should be fired.

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