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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 highly interactive Sesame Workshop site is a safe and fun introduction to simple social networking -- and a part of a global initiative to teach kids how to be good world citizens. Kids create an avatar that can visit other kids' avatars around the world, leaving friendly, prescripted messages and learning about other cultures and languages. No personal information is collected, and there's no inappropriate content. Six characters provide voice-over instructions for kids, but it's best to have parents guide them through the site using the "For Caregivers" materials.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, more than 25,000 kids have planted their flags on PANWAPA.COM, a lively new site from Sesame Workshop (from the corresponding mini-show on Sprout). Kids start by creating an avatar and a home from a diverse palette of options -- Sari or kimono? Igloo or cabin? -- and then build a flag that represents their favorite food, sport, instrument, etc. The flags illustrate how kids from different cultures can unite over common interests, like hamsters or jump rope. Using a globe to navigate around the world, kids can visit friends, leave messages for them, and learn about their countries. Six cuddly new Muppets host fun games that teach language and critical thinking skills, and a number of videos spotlight real kids around the world.
Is it any good?
This educational initiative, meaning "here on this Earth" in the Tshiluba language from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, does a wonderful job teaching kids about other cultures and relaying the message that someone across the globe may like the same things you do -- and if they don't, no problem, you can still be friends. The site is beautifully animated, the games are all age-appropriate, the choices for personalization aren't generic, it's easy to navigate around the site, all instructions are given as voice-over in welcoming voices, and the message will leave visitors with a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what age is right to use a computer and what are healthy computer habits to get into. What information is OK to share online? What is appropriate behavior when you interact with others online? Families can also talk about the benefits of learning a second language and learning about different cultures.
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