Club Penguin

Website review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Club Penguin Website Poster Image

Product no longer available

Virtual world translates well to mobile; still growing.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 158 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 909 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Kids can learn how to behave and communicate effectively and respectfully in a safe online community using both the Club Penguin app and website. Club Penguin encourages players to give the online "coins" they earn in games to charity, and teaches about good citizenship. Earning and saving coins can encourage kids to practice saving and planning toward a goal, and adopting cute colors and types of puffles also is a lightly educational exercise in collecting and categorizing. Games require critical thinking skills, such as anticipating what other players will do. Some even help kids acquire basic math computation skills, as well as provide practice in identifying patterns and cracking codes. A potent mix of fun and Internet safety makes this one of the "stickiest" virtual worlds for youngsters. The app doesn't feature all the same content as the Club Penguin website, but it still can help kids learn about playing safely and responsibly in an online community.

 

Positive Messages

Club Penguin's overall message is that there's a safe, positive, fun place to hang out online with your friends. Through its games and missions, the site promotes healthy competition and exploration.

 

Violence & Scariness

Penguins can throw snowballs at one another. During a kung fu-style card game, the winning penguin throws water balloons, squirts hot sauce, and pounds a jackhammer at the loser. In the game Bean Counter, a large anvil sometimes drops on your penguin. A shark pulls the penguin underwater during the game Puffle Rescue.

Sexy Stuff

Sexual topics are prohibited by the site's chat rules. Kids can report other users who are behaving or chatting inappropriately. Club Penguin's chat system uses technology that allows kids to type and combine more than 300,000 approved words and phrases. As a result, kids cannot easily use code language to create sexually suggestive words and get through filters. Any other words or phrases outside of the approved chat system that are typed will go into a queue to be approved or blocked by moderators. Ultimate Safe Chat will also remain an option for parents to select for their kids, which means only pre-scripted messages can be viewed.

Language

Kids can block or report other players for inappropriate language or mean behavior on the app and website. Standard Safe Chat is the only chat mode available. If a kid's settings are set to Ultimate Safe Chat (kids can use only pre-scripted terms; there's no typing or combining of phrases) on the Club Penguin website, they will not be able to chat on the app.

Consumerism

Kids get access to most of the app's features and games for free. But they'll need a membership ($7.95 per month, or less per month if you purchase a three- or six-month membership)to fully decorate their igloos, adopt more than two puffles, access all purchasing options for items such as clothes, and finish many of the games on the site. Parents have to solve a math problem to enter a kid-protected area on the app to purchase a membership, which is billed directly to an iTunes account (and continues to bill automatically until canceled). The site's main page contains links to stores that sell offline CP products, such as stuffed toys and T-shirts, and to Disneystore.com. Some of the offline items come with CP coins that unlock features on the site. Once kids are in the virtual world, however, it's considered a "protected zone" -- there are no links to outside product advertising. Parents can agree or decline to receive promotional emails from Club Penguin and other Disney entities at sign-up.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Club Penguin's chat rules forbid discussion of alcohol or drugs.

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the Club Penguin app is very similar to the website, although Club Penguin fans will notice some differences. The app includes 10 games, filtered chat features, and an igloo to decorate for each penguin, just like on the website. Kids can adopt two pet puffles without a membership or up to 40 puffles, including the dog and cat, with a paid membership. Players get rewarded for playing on the app daily with "fresh sushi pieces," which they use in a special game that can help them earn coins, and there are other app-only features. At the time of this review, there were no secret agent missions on the app, only on the website. Kids need a membership to purchase many items for the igloo and some penguin clothes, but the games are available without a membership. Both app and website versions of this title are available; our review references key points relevant to both.

User Reviews

Adult Written byCelestialBlessings April 23, 2009

Membership PROBLEMS

Overall, Club Penguin is smart & fun, but membership has some problems that need addressed in order to make this site totally terrific. Membership all... Continue reading
Adult Written byDadof2 March 29, 2009

Don't do it

My boys used the site for a while and grew bored with it. I tried to cancel the paid, monthly membership but their site would not allow me to do so. I sent an... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byDarkstorm824 February 18, 2010

Overall, terrible

This game is terrible, no doubt. It has safety issues all around it, people saying "FREE GUYS SAY I". It's TERRIBLE. I know some kids will say it... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMiloub April 24, 2011

Not that safe for kids.

Club penguin has extremely bad issues with bad language, Teens/Kids/Adults will litterly jump in a conversation and say something violent or inappropiate. There... Continue reading

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 activities 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 kids are taught how to block rule breakers and report any bad behavior. On the site, kids dress their penguin up, waddle around the many different areas of the virtual world -- all with cool themes -- and play fun games. 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.

The Club Penguin app is a fun way to play on the go in this popular virtual world. Kids who have played on Club Penguin's website likely will miss a few of the games and features on the website, but not on the app; still, much of the website content is now on the app, including the ability to adopt puffles.

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.

Talk to your kids 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.

  • If your kid loves Club Penguin and plays on the website and the app (and on another CP app, Puffle Launch, and Club Penguin: Elite Penguin Force, the DS game), it's easy to pile on the screen time. 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.

  • Ask your kid to show you what she's creating and doing -- the fun igloos she's decorating, the fashionable outfits she's choosing for her penguin, and her puffle collections -- as a way to encourage her to share what she's doing online.

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Website details

For kids who love to play online

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