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 ecology-themed virtual world was created by the company behind Web sites like Citysearch, Ask.com, and Evite. Kids must submit a parent's email address during registration. You'll get an email with your child's username and password and a link to activate the account. Registration is free, although there's a chance the site could move to a subscription-based model.
What's it about?
GREEN is a virtual world that functions similarly to sites like Club Penguin and Pixie Hollow. Users take on an avatar that they can customize with different types of hair, hands, and other features, and explore the site's eight worlds, which contain games, environmental facts, videos, and more. Playing games or watching the short films will earn you greenbacks, which can be used to buy couches, lawn gnomes, or other items from the site's store to decorate your virtual room. Users communicate with each other by chatting as they move through the site and by posting notes for each other in the Friends Central section. Green has both filtered chat (for 13 and over), and pre-scripted chat (for 12 and under). Monitoring is in place for all chat activities.
Is it any good?
We visited Green while it was still in beta, but the current content and functionality look promising. Navigating your way around the site is easy enough for little kids -- you move your avatar using your computer's arrow keys -- and the site features a good balance of fun activities and environmental information. Practical tips, like how to make a computer more environmentally friendly, show kids easy ways to do their part. The site's videos also teach valuable information in kid-friendly terms. The successful mix of just-for-fun stuff and educational information means users are likely to learn about improving the environment without even realizing it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about going green. Is your family doing everything it can to help save precious environmental resources? Is there anything you learned from the Web site that you could use in daily life that would help protect the environment? Also, why would a Web site give your parents access to your account so they can see who you're talking to. What would your parents look for? What concerns might they have?