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PBS Kids Kart Kingdom
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that PBS Kids Kart Kingdom is a kart racer where kids drive their customized avatars and their machines around tracks. To customize an avatar, kids will have to sign into the site with a username. They'll see a reminder not to use personal information in the username, and the site says all names are moderated. Kids also will receive a randomly generated password and choose a three-image secret code to access the site in the future. No objectionable content can be found on the site, making it safe for all.
What's it about?
PBS KIDS KART KINGDOM is an interactive world where kids can drive a customized character and cart around four areas: Mount Snow, Bug Garden, Grand Glade, and The Deep. They'll run into a few PBS Kids characters from Wild Kratts, Cat in the Hat, Plum Landing, and other shows in games. As kids complete quests and craft new items -- making virtual creations from various elements they're given -- they'll earn new parts for their vehicle. They also can play games to earn additional crafting resources.
Is it any good?
According to PBS Kids, Kart Kingdom was designed for 6- to 9-year-olds to learn and have fun by completing quests. The site offers some secondary lessons; kids will practice motor skills and following a few simple instructions as they drive from screen to screen. They also can learn to communicate in a safe way, using predetermined phrases and emoticons. The overall experience, though, can be a little confusing. User-made games and a game-creation tool have sparse instructions, and getting around the site isn't as simple as it could be. Kids can't move to another world on the map until they unlock it, but the process for that isn't easy. If kids get stuck on a quest and don't complete it, they aren't able to progress very far or do much more on the site, which can get very frustrating.
Kart Kingdom's intent is clearly positive. The site doesn't present any privacy concerns, and it doesn't put kids into contact with any questionable material. But it also may not pack quite the learning punch parents are hoping for, based on the description, and if kids can't get past the first challenge they come across, they may not want to spend much time here.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about safe online communication. Kart Kingdom lets you chat with other users, but you have to use emoticons and other pre-set items, so why is that safer than being able to type what you want to say?
If you're talking with another user on a site that doesn't restrict how you communicate, what kinds of things should you never say, such as your address or name?
Kart Kingdom’s activities illustrate how systems work. Point out an example of a system and ask your child to provide a similar example.