A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Miniclip is a popular gaming hub for middle school kids, and the range of games and the ease of play make it very addicting. As for the content, the action games (bombing, punching), sports games, shoot 'em ups (none gory), and political cartoons showcase adolescent humor, although some of the games are actually sweet. The site also has a social networking feature; to join, kids can register with a username, password, email address, and birthdate. The site says it requires kids under 13 to fill out a permission form to sign up, but that never materialized during registration. The social networking features are pretty safe, though -- kids can add friends, play against them in multiplayer challenges, and send them preselected messages only.
Is it any good?
MINICLIP.COM boasts more than 300 games -- from puzzles to shoot 'em ups to multiplayer challenges -- that will keep kids zoned for hours on end. Most of the games can be played within a browser, though some need to be downloaded. Visitors can register and create a "mini-me" avatar and profile, then challenge their friends to games or send them preselected messages. There's a lot of (juvenile) political humor on the site, like an Obama vs. Hillary streetfight game -- choose your candidate and taunt, kick, and slap your way to victory.
The focus on fighting and war gets a bit old, but there are plenty of creative games on the site -- like the awesome adventure game Cheese Dreams, in which you are a cheese moon running away from hungry space mice. Some of the super-simple games are the most addictive -- try tearing yourself away from Ping Pong, which involves nothing more than bouncing a ping-pong ball on a paddle over and over. The players section adds a fun, social element that kids have almost come to expect from websites these days.
Online interaction: Players can register for an account and challenge their friends.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how much time should be allotted for playing online games, and draw up some guidelines for balanced use.
Parents can ask kids what appeals to them about the site and ask how they feel about the more violent games. Does "cartoon" violence make less of an impression than more realistic media like videos or photos? What message does it send when hurting people or animals scores points in a game?
Families can also watch our video about online gaming.