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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that basic registration is free on Rinksters, an NHL virtual world for kids, but requires kids to enter a username, e-mail address, password, and their age and gender. To enter the site as a registered user, you must click on a confirmation e-mail link. A paid subscription is also available.
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Is it any good?
The NHL's RINKSTERS virtual world lets kids skate around as a customized avatar, play games, chat, and buy avatar merchandise like special shirts using gold coins, the site currency. Gold coins are awarded for being active on the site. (You can also buy them; 50,000 cost $5.) The site has taken some measures to ensure kids stay safe. You can't view random users' profiles unless you've friended each other, and the chat filter screens out bad words.
However, the site isn't easy to navigate. It's not very clear where the various games and other activities are located; and going from one section of the site to another may frustrate some users -- some pages take several minutes to load. The safety policy and general theme are positives. However, users may want to put Rinksters in the penalty box until the site adds some more activities and the virtual world becomes easier to get around.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the site's safe chat functions -- and why it's a good idea to not use your real name or chat with total strangers.
What things have you seen on other sites that let you chat that maybe aren't so safe, like being able to friend people you don't know or view other users' profiles?
Hockey sometimes involves some pretty violent moves. How can you play sports and be competitive -- while still having fun and not hurting any of the other players?
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