A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this safe British-based virtual world is centered on the members of a successful (but fake) girl band that has achieved (also fake) worldwide fame and fortune. Like a celebrity-centric Club Penguin for the tween girl, users can create personalized avatars, play games, and accumulate credits (conveniently stored in a handbag) that can be “spent” on clothes, housewares and accessories. Visitors can explore different glamorous locales, download music from the band, decorate their apartment, dress up their character, and use limited pre-approved chat phrases for free. Upgrading to VIP status unlocks many more features and exclusive items, including the opportunity to “climb a career ladder and become a celeb.”
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Is it any good?
The Brit Chicks -- Eva, Mica, and Honey -- are a fabricated, animated London-based girl band. They’re also the glamorous hostesses of the BRITCHICKS website, the virtual world that lets tween girls pretend they’re part of an entourage. The site offers the requisite avatar that can be dressed-up and dolled-up, along with a variety of clothes, accessories, and furnishings that can be bought for credits earned through games and adventures peppered throughout the site. Downloads of the band’s songs are available, and a visit to Chick Central lets avatars converse with the girls in the band, who make comments like “Have you ever thought of being a model?” Girls who are enamored with models and pop stars will be drawn to this celebrity-centric site and its glamorous group members who jet around the world, have adoring fans and are followed by the paparazzi. There’s no shortage of superficiality here, but it’s a safe and harmless place to have a brief brush with (fake) fame.
Online interaction: Users can use the free chat to talk with other avatars using pre-approved phrases such as “I like shopping” and “Do you like my outfit?”
Talk to your kids about ...
Why it’s important to have a healthy understanding that celebrities are human and shouldn’t automatically be considered role models just because they’re famous. What celebrities can you name who are positive role models? And which ones aren’t?
Aside from providing a fun place to hang out online, what other purpose do virtual worlds have? What do their creators hope to achieve through their website? Making money? Creating new products to sell? Can you see this site branching out into other profitable ways?
How does a virtual world compare to the real world? Are there things you would do and say in a virtual world that you wouldn’t in real life? Why is it important -- even when chatting is limited -- to know how to stay safe and private when online?
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