Club Penguin is an online game community targeted at kids aged six to fourteen. It aims to introduce online gaming to young players by providing a safe and positive environment through advanced word filters, supervised user content and parent tools. While it all sounds good on paper, just how effective and applicable will all this be for its target audience?
Being under the Disney umbrella, it is clear that, if used properly, Club Penguin could be one of the most effective ways to make learning truly fun for children. There are educational games which not only hone your child’s thinking and decision making abilities; it may also improve their motor skills. With the use of its chat features, kids learn the value of teamwork. These also encourage socialization, providing kids with a way to discover new likes and dislikes from the comfort of home. Creativity is encouraged, thanks to the number of ways players can dress up their penguin avatars and igloos. Lastly, the concept of money saving is introduced in the form of earning virtual coins to exchange for in-game items.
Grown-ups can keep tabs on their child’s game progress by making use of parent tools. These allow adults to see what games and interactive activities have been accomplished by their little ones. There is also an option to send postcards with enclosed virtual coin gifts to reward kids for a job well done. Also, talking about these virtual experiences and joining in the fun may be a way to get closer to kids while supervising their introduction to the vast world of online gaming.
Because chatting with others may expose six-year-olds to unpleasant, potentially negative conversations, Club Penguin
has settings which determine the type they may engage in. Ultimate Safe Chat limits the interaction to predetermined words and phrases for all parties. This may be your best bet if word choice and upper age group exposure is an issue. For those who wish to try Standard Chat, the game promises to screen words using advanced word filters and to monitor user generated text with live moderators.
As with all online communities, remember that you cannot completely remove the danger of cyber bullying. There have been users complaining about other players circumventing the site’s safety features in order to send inappropriate text. Troublemakers are also able to promote unwanted behavior by making jokes about issues such as skipping school or to fish out personal information. Keep in mind that this is simply a natural aspect of online interaction.
The creative aspect of personalizing your very own avatar is a cool concept indeed. Items could be anything from a standard top hat to Star Wars accessories. That being said, this option is only available to premium members. Those who are hoping to enjoy the feature from a free to play fan’s standpoint will be sorely disappointed. To add to the problem, there is a very visible gap between the sea of lookalike penguins versus their hip, unique counterparts. Kids will be kids so there are going to be cliques separating pay players from the rest of the rookery. Be prepared to shell out or risk some major tears to be spilled.
Overall, Club Penguin has all the makings of a wonderful tool to have fun with your kids. If you are the type of parent who is able to communicate openly about family activities, it may be a hit in your household. Just remember that as with all online activity, there are certain risks involved in exposing very young children to it so we recommend choosing filter settings which are right for your family.