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 run-of-the-mill kids' virtual world and game site is fine for a cute, safe site for grade schoolers to play around on and chat a bit. But once the beta period ends, all players' points and items they've earned and purchased will be wiped out -- and all will be encouraged to join at an "elite" membership for a yet-to-be-determined monthly fee. There's nothing innovative, educational or creative enough to warrant paying for access to this site.The site says kids can start fresh and not join at a premium rate if they want to continue to play for free, which may be the best bet.
- Parents say
- Kids say
Is it any good?
PANDANDA bills itself as a safe virtual world for kids at 6-14, but older kids won't find much here to keep their interest. For younger kids, there's some fun, basic games (for instance, a Connect Four-style game and some other arcade-style stuff) and, of course, the typical kids virtual world activities like dressing up a cute little avatar (in this case a red panda), decorating a house (in this case a treehouse) for it, and wandering around a world interacting with other avatars with conversations like "Hi" and "I can't find my friends," and "How'd You Get up There?" In other words, it appears harmless but don't expect too much.
Online interaction: Helpful reminders about safe online interaction during the registration process (such as "keep chat safe and respectful," "never reveal personal info."), safe chat modes, periodic review of chat logs and a general sense of positive, controlled interaction for younger kids makes this site a generally positive spot. On the downside, younger children may have a hard time understanding if their chat requests are rejected.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to "make friends" on a virtual world site like this vs. real life friends. How does your child feel when someone accepts or denies a friend request? Should she take it personally? What kind of things should she say and not say to a virtual world "friend?" Check out Common Sense Media's Online Worlds for Young Kids Tips for more ideas.