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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this website.
Kids can learn to build friendships within a virtual world as cool and trendy as the gang on their favorite tween drama or sitcom. Players create avatars that look great, dress well, and have fabulous condos. They can then choose between matching, strategy, and puzzle games and also complete activities -- like shopping -- to earn more swag. Most games are focused on fun, but some will reinforce skills like strategic thinking and puzzle solving. OurWorld is a fun, safe space for tweens and teens to develop online social skills.
There's a heavy focus on buying stuff -- even just-for-fun virtual clothing and furniture -- on the site.
Violence & Scariness
Some of the games, such as Warlords: Heroes and Zombeast Stampede, involve stabbing or shooting opponents to kill them.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Aside from a few message board posts about how to report/remove posts that mention sex and nudity, the boards seem pretty free of sexual content.
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The chat feature supposedly has two filters -- one for players 13 and older and a stricter one for players younger than 13 -- that will replace words it can't accept/doesn't recognize with another word. However, the general message board contains words like "s--t" and "f--k," and it's possible to enter words like "damn," even if you're registered as being younger than 13. (Words like "f--k," however, are changed into a nonsensical string of letters in chats.)
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Products & Purchases
Some games are preceded by brief commercials for gum, AT&T, and other products (labeled as a "short message from our sponsor.") Users are also encouraged to gather two types of site currency: gems, which are frequently purchased via credit card, and coins, which can be earned.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that OurWorld is a virtual world where kids can play chat and play games; a few of the games have violent content. For kids to chat, they need to first send a parent verification email through the site. If they're under 13, parents are told kids' communications will be filtered to ensure they're only using approved words and phrases. However, parents can change their child's settings to let them chat openly with other users; so if kids enter their email address for the verification, they can easily unlock any restrictions.
Is It Any Good?
Parents have some control over what their kids can do on the OURWORLD site: They can decide whether kids can talk with strangers, friends, or not chat at all when they sign up, and can restrict kids from making any changes to their account settings. A language filter also helps prevent swears from being used in chats. However, the site is definitely geared toward kids who are tweens or older; it can be a little tricky to navigate around, and although many of the 40 or so puzzle, matching, and other games are tame, some action games involve shooting and killing that could be too violent for younger users.
OurWorld should provide some generally safeguarded fun as you make your avatar dance and travel around the virtual world. However, it's unclear if kids will log on for long without wanting to buy one of the paid subscriptions ($5.99-$10 per month or $49.99 a year) to help them rise through the site levels faster and access exclusive areas. There's also a push to purchase gems, one of the two forms of site currency, to get special virtual accessories -- but many kids will still find fun things to do on the site for free.
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