What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that to visit this very pink virtual world of the Ty Girlz ("fashion" dolls from the same people who brought us the Beanie Baby), you need to purchase one of the dolls ($14.99), since each comes with a secret code used to access the games and activities. The virtual Ty Girlz are a bit more vampy looking than their actual doll counterparts, and they also wade in some very shallow waters, with interests that don't extend far beyond makeovers and shopping. And while the site includes games that test memory and other skills, it's these very games that drive kids to spend even more time online, since they're the way to earn Ty Dollars, the site's virtual currency. On the plus side, chat is restricted, limiting users to preselected words and phrases, or a restricted dictionary. There isn't any advertising on the site, but you can learn more about the other dolls in the collection and where you can buy them in your area. Be warned: Kids who love the site are likely to beg you for all of the dolls.
What's it about?
TYGIRLZ.COM is one of several virtual worlds for dolls and other toys, popular with tweens. Ty Girlz look to their Bratz doll counterparts for aesthetic inspiration: They've got the big hair, cartoonish features, and of course, sexy, sparkly clothes. In their world, kids can dress their virtual doll for auditions and dates; chat with other doll owners; shop for new furniture and clothes; and when the money runs out, play games to earn more.
Is it any good?
It's unfortunate that good old-fashioned play, the kind where you create the world your dolls live in, is becoming second fiddle to online play. Who needs the Barbie house and its trappings when you've got an online passport to a colorful world where you can redecorate your pad or engineer an outfit change with the click of a mouse?
Despite the virtual consumerism and promotion of new clothes and makeup, the site is relatively harmless -- as long as that virtual world is balanced with some time in the real world and less shallow pursuits.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about why the Ty Girlz don't have jobs (with the exception of Rockin' Ruby, the rock star) or go to school. If your Ty Girl did have a job, what would it be? Families can also discuss how this site pushes the idea of spending money and buying things. Does the site make you want to buy all the dolls?