A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ever After High is a website that revolves around Mattel's popular doll collection. Kids can play games, watch videos, read blogs, and download wallpaper as a guest, but, to rack up the site currency, spend it on virtual gear and furniture, and save items, they'll need to register. Registration doesn't require personal information; kids only need to choose a character username from a list, enter a password, and submit a password reminder hint. The website doesn't push product as heavily as expected, so if your kids already are fans of the Web series and dolls, they should have a reasonable amount of fairy-tale fun here.
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What's it about?
EVER AFTER HIGH, a spin-off of Mattel's Monster High doll and book series, involves a different crop of sassy students -- expect more fairy-tale tie-ins and fewer creature features. Many characters seek independence and identity, but the content never gets too heavy for younger kids to enjoy. You can play two games; watch a series of videos; and participate in site activities to earn gold charms. You'll spend your virtual stash on dorm furniture and avatar fashion gear. In the webisodes, which take place at Ever After High (a school for the kids of fairy-tale characters, of course), the Royals, a Mean Girls-style group of teens, are often pitted against the Rebels, who ask the question, "What if I want to choose my own happily ever after?"
Is it any good?
Characters at the fairy-tale-themed Ever After High boarding school struggle with identity issues as they prepare to either accept or reject their intended fates; following their destinies means retracing their famous parents' footsteps. Prince Charming's son ponders the expectations he faces; Pinocchio's daughter wants to make her own decisions. One character, the Raven Queen, is particularly conflicted because her planned future involves becoming evil. (Not all characters are particularly noble -- Goldilocks' daughter, for example, is searching for perfection.)
Registration can be a bit frustrating. Kids may need to try a few names before finding an available option, and the site seems to randomly log users out at times. Some sections also load a bit slowly (or not at all -- a "Sorry, an error occurred while processing your request" message appeared on several recent tries).
The site places a pretty strong emphasis on stuff: User activity is rewarded with gold charms, which kids can spend on dorm room furniture and other goods, and Ever After High doll purchases are only a click away. However, for a product-promotion site, the content could feel a lot more advertorial than it does, which is a nice surprise. The site could use a few more activities; the webisode library has a decent amount of videos, but kids may burn through the two games and other options fairly quickly. If they do, though, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Ever After High's games provide a bit of reading practice, and kids also will find out if they can make the grade on some investigative work. Kids who visit the site may not be poised to become princesses, but some will undoubtedly identify with the characters' struggles.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how confident the Ever After High students are. How much does your child worry about fitting in?
Ever After High students have unique appearances -- which other students support. Ask your child: How would you feel if someone teased you for acting or looking different? Discuss ways to handle situations wherein other kids are being teased.
Kids can play and read things on the site without owning any Ever After High merchandise, but product codes will earn you extra points. Can your child have fun on the site without feeling pressure to buy anything?
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