A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that all kids, regardless of age, are asked to enter parent's e-mail address to register on the Littlest Pet Shop website. Premium membership, which costs $5.95 for a month, gives you some special privileges, such as giving virtual gifts to other premium members, and provides Kibble Coins, the site currency, for kids to spend on virtual pet accessories.
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Is it any good?
Kids don't need to own one of Hasbro's Littlest Pet Shop pets to use the LITTLEST PET SHOP ONLINE site -- but chances are, after spending some time on it, they may want one. The site gets points for being easy to use. A cute character walks you through the registration process, and throughout the site, guides and other user avatars greet you by blinking and wiggling their ears.
Product plugs abound: The emphasis in both the general product information section of Hasbro's site and the pet-centric virtual world is definitely on Pet Shop products. (One section encourages girls to create a scrapbook and wish list to "keep track of the pets you own and the ones you want.") If you do buy one of the toys in a store, you'll get a code to unlock special rewards on the site. Yet there's still plenty of fun to be had without purchasing a pet. Kids can create their own animal avatar and play fun games like Connect 4. They can also cruise around and chat -- safely -- with other users, making the virtual Pet Shop world a fun place to visit.
Online interaction: Users can chat with each other on the site using predetermined phrases or by keying in words -- but a filter blocks any inappropriate ones.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how much time is too much time to spend in a virtual world. When is it better to play in the "real" world?
This site offers a paid membership that lets you do different things on the site, which can be a great way to get kids to talk about money. Ask your child, "What do you know about saving and spending?"
Like all pets, virtual pets require care -- which is a great way to learn how to be responsible. What do you need to do to care for a pet?