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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 virtual world is a fun, educational site that focuses on marine life. A la Webkinz.com, buy a sea turtle, dolphin, reef shark, or other stuffed toy and get a code to enter to play with the virtual version of your animal. The site provides kids with their animal's own virtual aquarium and "tubestation" leading to games, chats, and a store (players earn Pearl Points to buy stuff to decorate their animal's Seapad). Seapalsworld.com says it's appropriate for ages 5-12 but younger kids who don't read well may get quickly frustrated by the games and the skills needed to navigate the site.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
SEAPALSWORLD.COM mirrors the ultra-popular Webkinz.com concept but has more educational segments -- all focused on marine life and the environment -- and better graphics. Pre-determined chat text and single or multiplayer games are safe and fun for reading players, but may be frustrating for pre- or early readers. Like Webkinz, there's a buying component to this site. Players earn Pearl Points to buy stuff to decorate their animal's Seapad.
Is it any good?
Since this is a relatively new site, the multiplayer games can be quiet, meaning kids have to wait a while before another online player shows up, so single player games may be more fun at this point. Overall, though, SeapalsWorld.com is a beautiful edutainment-style site -- if you can balance the message of commercialism with environmentalism with your Seapal fan, who may get a mixed message that buying more stuffed animals equals saving the environment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about being a good digital citizen. How should you interact with others online? What's not appropriate? Families can also discuss the pros and cons of computer play. How can you balance computer play with playing in the "real" world? Also, what about the responsibilities of caring for something -- even if it's virtual? What do you need to do to care for a pet?