webkinz.. a safe childhood memory?

Okay, so my sister was talking to me about webkinz, which for those of you unfamiliar are basically Beanie Babies that have a code connected with them that you can log online and connect with other webkinz users.  At first, I thought that it was a cool idea, but then I started thinking about the danger this could impose to kids using this online feature.  My cousin is 5 and he has a webkinz that he actively goes online with and joins different ‘playrooms’ where they can interact with other kids.

The issue that I saw with this, is as i mentioned my sister (who is 20) brought this up because her and her college friends had bought two and would go online and just mess around with the online features.  While she was doing this she came across a couple questionable characters, such as kunt** (i took out the numbers just for anonymity), which i think its offensiveness and maturity can easily be seen to us as adults but to a 7 year old wouldnt draw any red flags.  Although the functions of the online play world limits users to certain phrases and questions like, “What is your favorite color?” i feel as if it got into the right hands it could be used for misconduct.

in my opinion, i think it is opening up children to this online world way too early.  Do you think that there should be certain regulations to the age of online users? Not to say that there aren’t some computer programs that completely children-friendly and dont allow any communication among users, but once that door is opened do you think that we are opening the door to possible online predators?   Do you think this is a good idea for kids to be using?

Or are any of you on the side of David Williams, who claims in his recent column that “Kids won’t know the world without Web”?  Do you really think it has become such a facet that it should be used at such an early age for gaming?

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5 thoughts on “webkinz.. a safe childhood memory?

  1. I definitely see a problem with older individuals logging onto the same site and being able to interact with smaller children. This definitely can raise problems with verbal harassment and child predators. If anyone of any age can log on to this site, there needs to be some regulation, maybe having to register your age at the place you buy webkins, and then only allowing certain ages to interact with each other. I do feel that the age of being introduced to technology is definitely getting younger and I mean, in kindergarden I remember playing computer games at school. But young kids on the internet is still surreal to me. Especially on social sites, I only knew my alphabet and a few words when I was five. I don’t see it necessary to introduce kids that young to the internet even as a teaching method. It blows my mind that kids that young are capable of using a computer and social site. I guess that shows how things have changed since I was little.

  2. Separate issue, but shouldn’t tots develop social skills in … uh … REAL playrooms. As a child who missed the boat on preschool and whose resultant social skills surfaced years too late (some might argue they still are a work in process), why can’t kids develop their own identities vis-a-vis real kids? This smacks of a definite child developmental mistake, aside from the concerns raised by “nkacz08” and “allycoop.”

  3. I took a look at the Williams article mentioned by “allycoop,” and this sentence stood out to me:

    “Yes, it’s bizarre that my daughter’s first game of Connect Four occurred while sitting on a pretend park bench surrounded by several dogs, a couple of penguins and a lion named Alex.”

    First off: this would never happen. Lion + a couple of tasty penguins = bloodbath.

    It makes one wonder how this socializes a child. David Williams seems like a smart guy and I am sure he has a sensible approach to all this, but I do feel somewhat bad for a kid whose first experience of playing connect four is on a pretend park bench surrounded by penguins and lions. Maybe this is just nostalgia talking, but I think there is something about the real world that none of these virtual games capture: it is messy, coins get stuck, things get knocked over, people have stuff stuck between their teeth or have bad hair days.

    I think that a lot (or at least some) of the appeal of virtual worlds, for lack of a better world, is that it allows us to live in clean worlds devoid of the daily annoyances that prevent us from focusing on “pure communication and interaction.”
    But ultimately, with losing physicality, we also lose something that has defined the human interaction for as long as we have known.

  4. I don’t know if it is just me, but the idea of a childhood being developed in a cyber world makes me fear the type of teens and kids that will be a result of it. I am picturing them conversing with sentences filled with LOL, ROFL, and JK’s and that scares me to think those are the social skills that will be taking place in kid’s developmental stages.

    Also Bastiaan, in the world of cyberspace penguins and lions are clearly ‘frienemies’..

    by the way… this is making me wish i used “agent cody cornwell squash” as my online pseudo name instead of “allycoop”

  5. “allycoop” I was thinking the same thing. Right now the in thing or rather ironic thing to do is use terms such as lol in regular conversation outside the internet or texting. What is wrong with society and has saying lol become less of a joke and more of a reality. I can understand webkinz as being just a game but taking it and making it seem like it is the best way to socialize children is taking it too far. Introducing children to this site is one of my biggest fears for what children continue to be exposed to. This harkens back to one of our first conversations in class discussing an article on texting. Games like this are deteriorating this generation socially.

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