Club Penguin

 
(i)

 

Learning(i)

Site unveils new chat tool, makes it easier to find friends.

What parents need to know

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 each other. During a Kung Fu-style card game on the site, the winning Penguin throws water balloons, squirts hot sauce, and pounds a jack hammer at the loser.

Sexy stuff

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. Kids can block or report other players who are following them or otherwise behaving inappropriately toward their penguin.

Language

The chat system, which Club Penguin developers call the "safest and most advanced chat technologies," only allows players to type in pre-approved words and phrase combinations. Any other words or phrases that are typed will go into a queue for moderators to approve or ban. Ultimate Safe Chat also still exists; players limited to Ultimate Safe Chat can only chat using pre-scripted terms (no typing or combining of phrases) and can only see other players using the same. 

Consumerism

Kids earn virtual money to buy things for their igloo and penguin, but only paid members have a broad range of things they can buy. Kids are definitely encouraged to upgrade to a paid membership ($6/month; $58/year) to have access to pets and clothes and to decorate a room for their penguin. A membership is required to be able to finish many of the games on the site. 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.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Kids can "turn off" players they don't want to interact with through an icon on the Friends list. The new chat list safeguards against sharing any personal information because kids can only choose from and combine pre-approved words and phrases as they're typing. The site's rules tell kids not to ask for or give away personal information -- including whether you're a girl or a boy. There are clear warnings and guidelines about how to secure your password and how to report rule breakers. Any personal information collected (parent's email address, child's account name -- not their real name -- and account password, as well as parent's credit card and billing information for paid accounts) follows the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act standards.

The thorough parent section helps adults navigate the site's features. Parents can view their kid's account and change settings, set time limits, and choose chat preferences for their child. Parents can also view messages, the child's list of friends, and activities on the site. 

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 kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • addition

Skills

Self-Direction

  • work to achieve goals

Responsibility & Ethics

  • following codes of conduct
  • honoring the community
  • respect for others

Tech Skills

  • social media

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Club Penguin is a "cool" way for kids to get their feet wet in the world of social networking and online gaming. Kids enjoy dressing up their penguin and waddling around the many different themed areas of the virtual world.

Learning Approach

A community newspaper and other activities encourage online citizenship and more meaningful online dialogue and play. Secret agent missions and contests require kids to crack codes, solve puzzles, and replicate patterns.

Support

A chat tool includes 300,000 popular phrases that have been approved by monitors; kids can use these words and phrases in so many combinations that it should not feel limiting.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • addition

Skills

Self-Direction

  • work to achieve goals

Responsibility & Ethics

  • following codes of conduct
  • honoring the community
  • respect for others

Tech Skills

  • social media

Kids can learn how to behave and communicate effectively and respectfully in a safe online community. Club Penguin encourages players to give the online "coins" they earn in games to charity, and teaches about good citizenship. 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.

This Learning Rating review was written by Dana Villamagna

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?

QUALITY
 

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...

Website details

Genre:Virtual Worlds
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Club Penguin was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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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's a money problem also, Kids cannot buy stuff for their igloo or penguin without paying real money, and the prices are moterlly expensive. It's also not educational, while you can buy a so called ''Puffle'' and feed and water it, and it leaves if you don't feed play or water it, There's no more education then just that. Kids find it interesting, but it mostly lacks of things that should be taught.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Great messages
Safety and privacy concerns
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's the best, but trust me, it's boring and it's unsafe for your child. Things cost waaaaaaaaaay too much. If you don't pay the game for a membership, you can't do anything. You can go on the game but you cannot dress your penguin or decorate an igloo and players WITH memberships will exclude you in many events because you're not a member. You will also get excluded from many parties in the game that the staff of Club Penguin make. I would not recommend this game to any gamers. The graphics are terrible, you're just a flat screen penguin, you can swear by typing the swear in a different form. Some players pretend to be criminals and even "rob" other players by going up to the other player and saying "Steals purse" or "robs". So no, I would NEVER recommend this game.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Safety and privacy concerns
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 allows kids to fully enjoy the site, however, when the membership renewal doesn't go though or expires, objects such as costumes, hats, ninja outfits, igloo items & more all "disappear temporarily" until the minimum $5.95 fee is paid. Now, not only is that rather ROTTEN to do to kids who already "purchased" these items with points earned while PAID members, it's simply BAD BUSINESS. It would be just as motivating & lucrative for the site owner to simply KEEP EVERYTHING ALREADY EARNED DURING PAID MEMBERSHIP IN CHILDREN'S ACCOUNTS, but prevent any "new" items to be obtained until membership is renewed. After all, we already PAID to have access to all those cute items & therefore they NOW BELONG to our child's account! Items acquired during membership should remain the "property" of the account holder, not the site! It's ridiculous for a child to exclaim, "Oh no, I can't use my ninja suit and my items are blocked out!" in order to prompt another $5.95 membership fee! The site owner should prompt membership payment/renewal by making ONLY NEW ITEMS unavailable until membership is renewed again. Certainly, the retailer has no right to TAKE WHAT WAS ALREADY PAID FOR! After all, using prepaid debit cards for online purchases & even the Club Penguin cards available at C.V.S, walmart, etc. means that parents will always be renewing their child's account! So why in the world would Club Penguin be so crummy to kids to with-hold many of the fun things they earned while paid members -- even if only for an hour while we care-givers & parents quickly run to the store for a new prepaid debit or club penguin card? The same prompt for membership renewal can be communicated just as clearly by simply withholding account access to NEW STUFF until membership is renewed, without all the unnecessary DRAMA! Club Penguin, kick it up a notch & be a better retailer. Then, yes, your site will be truly GREAT! Best, A Wise Grandmother

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