Responsive developers, game is even better than before
I wrote a review a while back - it is below this.
In it I stated some problems with the site, how kids were preying upon each other. I wrote to the developers and complained, and they responded wonderfully. Steps were taken to prohibit the scamming that players were able to perform on each other, several of my suggestions were incorporated fully into the game. I was very impressed with their response to the feedback I gave. My old review follows but it isn't applicable anymore, as trades are only made now when a pop-up appears in a totally different area of the screen, and the child has to move the mouse over and click there to complete the transaction, eliminating the possibility of trading without realizing you're doing it that I described below. Also, the kids get to vote on which items should be brought back to be sold again.
The aspect of the game that I had found disturbing was eliminated and the game is safer and doesn't feel predatory anymore. My kids love this game, and I approve.
I strongly approved of this site when my children started playing it last year, but things have changed. (My kids are 7 and 9, and yes they are a little young for the site, but I haven't had any issues with it until now). The things I find negative don't really fall into the given categories, so I guess I have to write it down.
All those good things about it are still true, it is educational, there is no selling of site products to them.
However, the player interaction part has changed. It used to be the kids would play and interact and pretend with each other. You be the mommy and I'll be your baby bunny sort of thing.
Now the entire focus of the game has become acquiring rare items. This often involves tricking other more trusting players out of their items.
Mostly trading occurs on trading forums, but players have started to approach each other, encouraging them to use mail to send or gift each other the items. This happened to my child and she has watched it happen to others. One player suggests mailing instead of trading, and another player stands nearby assuring you child it works great to mail instead of trade and it's fun and safe. So my child mails her rare item to the other child, in expectation that she will get the same item in a different color back. Instead the other player disappears with her item.
But wait, there's more. These rare items are highly desired by all players. If your child has one, they will be hounded to trade or give it away until they hide it.
There are also lots of players saying 'Tap on this space repeatedly to get a rare item!' Oh and if you have a rare item put it on your trading list, tap here quickly and you'll get another one of the same rare item. The kids are completely desperate to get this items, and they believe this and don't see the risk. Then the player telling them to quickly click the space moves their character over the spot, and a trade is initiated, approved, and completed before your child realizes what is going on. Suddenly the pop-ups flash across the screen and it's over. There is no record of who they even traded with, they've now got a common undesirable item in exchange for their rare one.
If your child is not already a little hardened to the tough world where people lie, cheat, and steal, Animal Jam will introduce them to it. I suppose losing a virtual item is better than being scammed out of a real item. Nonetheless it is sad that a fun game has turned into a land where gangs of thug kids prey upon the innocence and desperation of others.