What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Club Penguin is an enjoyable introduction to virtual worlds, avatars, and online gaming aimed at kids ages 6 to 14. Two new tools -- an updated chat mode and a new friends list -- are intended to make Club Penguin's chat safer and the friend experience more socially meaningful. The chat mode uses a new tool created by linguists and approved by moderators that's sort of like the auto-complete feature for text messaging on cell phones. It allows players to type the first few words they want to say of a sentence; kids then complete the sentence by choosing from pre-approved phrase options (more than 300,000 in all). Words and phrases that aren't recognized go into a queue to be approved or banned by moderators. This greatly limits the potential for players to include banned words that they spell in different ways to get around the old filters. The site has parental controls to allow parents to manage chat settings, screen time, and more. While kids can join for free, play is highly limited compared to paying members.
What's it about?
Kids dress and decorate a home for their virtual penguin avatar. They also adopt and care for puffles, communicate with other kids via their penguins, and play games (Card-Jitsu or Mancala) with other penguins. Players also buy stuff with online \"coins\" that they earn playing games, and participate in other community- and game-based activities. Secret agent missions are some of the more detailed, multi-step activities on the site. Also, a community newspaper and other activites encourage online citizenship and more meaningful online dialogue and play.
Is it any good?
CLUB PENGUIN is a cool way for kids to get their feet wet in the world of social networking and online gaming -- as long as parents use the site's parental controls and as long as kids are taught how to block rule breakers and how to report any bad behavior. On the site, kids enjoy dressing up their penguin, waddling around the many different areas of the virtual world -- all with cool themes -- and playing fun games. Plus, players should be able to find their friends' penguins more easily -- but still remain anonymous -- with the new friends list.
The new chat tool includes only phrases that have been approved by monitors. Some 300,000 of the most used phrases were mined from chat logs to create the approved list; kids can use these words and phrases in so many combinations that it should not feel limiting. The end result is that kids are safer but still have more opportunities for real conversation than with highly scripted chat.
Virtual coins -- which paid members can earn via games or the Puffle Launch app -- are used to buy virtual clothes for penguins or the latest gear for igloos. Unfortunately, there's very little you can spend the coins on if you're not a paid member.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about chat etiquette, Internet safety, and virtual worlds. Read our Club Penguin tips for more advice.
Review our Internet Safety Tips for Elementary School Kids for age-specific advice on safe surfing.
Talk with your child about the computer-time limits you set both in general and on the parental controls for Club Penguin specifically so your kids don't spend too much of their day online.