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 virtual world based on Tinker Bell sparkles like fairy dust for young fairy fans -- and may glitter like gold for Disney, depending on how much money parents spend there. Currently, prescripted messages can only be sent from players to people they know (via email address). But parents should be on the alert that this may change: According to media reports, later this year kids will be able to participate in a "virtual world" on the site.The main activity is creating your own fairies, dressing them, and decorating their houses a la Webkinz. However, players don't have to earn web money and spend it for fairy products. The site is also creating hype for the fall 2008 release of the direct-to-DVD movie Tinker Bell.
What's it about?
Disney's empire is expanding online into the youth interactive, virtual game arena with ideal tie-ins to movies and characters already familiar to kids. DISNEY FAIRIES.COM uses the generations-old Tinker Bell and her new friends (coming soon in Tinker Bell the movie on DVD in the fall ) to create a \"virtual theme park\" where young girls can create fairies, play games, print out real-life fairy party activities and crafts -- and encourage their parents to buy everything from Disney fairy room decor to a trip on a Disney cruise.
Is it any good?
The site gives kids random name choices for their characters (a good safety tool) and a fake fairy address. Overall, DisneyFairies.com is safe, beautiful, and just plain fun imaginative fantasy for younger girls through perhaps second or third grade. But while she's dressing her fairies in fancy forest fashion, you may want to help your kid become aware of the site's subtle marketing practices and the sometimes overwhelming Disney branding.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences between these fairy characters and other similar cartoon images of girls today, like Bratz. Do they all have similar looks? What is the difference between playing in an imaginary world that is created "for" you on a site, versus creating one on your own in the backyard? Also, for slightly older fairy enthusiasts, discuss why Disney would create a beautiful (and obviously expensive) site like this and not charge anything for it. What is Disney getting out of it?
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