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 traffic safety-focused virtual world allows kids to chat with each other using either predetermined responses or through open channels, if they use the points they've earned on the site to purchase a "cell phone." The open chat is partially monitored and stays on topic and appropriate for tweens. Answering quizzes correctly and playing games wins mobility points, which can buy stuff for your avatar. There are no ads on the site, but it is sponsored by DaimlerChrysler.
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- Kids say
What's it about?
Learning about traffic and road safety indoors -- away from any actual roads -- may seem a bit backward, but MOKITOWN.NET was designed to teach kids safety tips before they have to use them outside. The site encourages kids to be alert and aware at all times, which is reinforced through games, quizzes, and scenarios. Kids create and name an online moki (short for \"mobile kids\") that, as it treks around Mokitown, interacts with people and street crossings. Users learn to recognize -- and avoid -- dangers involving cars, bikes, pedestrians, and more. A robot named Benedikt sometimes appears to ask geography and traffic questions. Answer correctly and you win mobility points, which can buy stuff for your avatar.
Is it any good?
At first glance, the site may look like zany cartoon fun, but it has a serious traffic safety message. The games are some of the site's most fun features, and also, its biggest benefit -- after all, if kids make the wrong traffic safety choices during a game, it's better than them making a wrong guess at a real-life intersection.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about chat etiquette, Internet safety, and virtual worlds. What's the best way to approach a new person online? Why would someone be mean to someone he or she never met? What can you say or do if another avatar (or real-life person, for that matter) is mean to you? Why is using words a good way to deal with a conflict?
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