SecretBuilders

 

Learning(i)

Vast virtual world appeals to wide age range.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Players are encouraged to become part of the Secret Builders community, by befriending others, chatting with people and submitting feedback about different activities and features. People can make suggestions for new features and read other people's ideas on forums. Players are encouraged to notify the moderators about anything they may think is inappropriate. The site also features games that enables kids to raise money for charity groups.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language

Moderators screen all submissions for inappropriate language before it is posted. There are two modes for chatting; younger players use the restricted chat feature, which limits people to a list of words and phrases, while older kids can, with their parents' permission, chat freely, though the content is still screened for inappropriate words. Parents have control over players' buddy lists.

Consumerism

The site encourages people to earn money, called shills, by playing games, and then to spend it on various items. Some opportunities to earn money involve watching ads for products or shows for adults.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Players can chat with each other under different levels of restriction, so it is possible to exchange personal information within free chats. Other communication is handled within the site and reveals only usernames. Kids can share original stories, poems, and plays -- also attributed to their usernames.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that SecretBuilders is a virtual world that offers a huge variety of activities to satisfy its target age range of 5-14. The site has several educational features that introduce important historical characters and basic concepts in math, science, and the humanities as well as a strong social element. Players are encouraged to chat, message, and like other players or attend and hold parties at virtual homes and they can  comment on other user's written submissions to the site's online magazine. A paid membership with lots of benefits is encouraged, but kids can access all areas of SecretBuilders for free.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • writing
  • reading

Math

  • arithmetic

Social Studies

  • historical figures
  • history

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles
  • strategy
  • problem solving

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • work to achieve goals

Communication

  • friendship building

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

The quests, games, and interactions with historical figures are so engrossing, users may not even realize its strong educational element.

Learning Approach

Kids encounter content via quests, games, and entertaining interactions with historical and fictional characters. Kids are builders themselves; they can submitting original stories or post ideas for improving the site.

Support

Parents can keep tabs on their kids' activities and online friends. Sections for parents and teachers suggest ways to help kids get the most from their time in SecretBuilders and a mobile version is available.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • writing
  • reading

Math

  • arithmetic

Social Studies

  • historical figures
  • history

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles
  • strategy
  • problem solving

Self-Direction

  • academic development
  • work to achieve goals

Communication

  • friendship building

Kids can learn by boosting their academic knowledge and improving their social skills. Activities throughtout the site weave in core content, logic, and computer literacy.  Freedom to choose what to do empowers kids and they're rewarded and challenged as they improve. SecretBuilders does take a breadth approach over a depth one, with rapid-fire factoids (in just minutes we meet four different historical figures). Still, the educational piece of this online world is fun, motivating, and refreshing. 

This Learning Rating review was written by Michelle Kitt

What's it about?

SecretBuilders is an enormous online world for kids to explore. Players customize their own avatars and navigate through virtual bazaars, haunted houses, magical forests, laboratories, and many, many other locations, where they encounter other users, historical figures and plenty of entertaining activities. People can play games, go on quests and participate in other pursuits, usually earning \"shills,\" the coin of the realm. Everyone gets their own home, and can spend their shills to purchase pets, furniture, and other decorations. People can also befriend other users, chat with each other, and post messages on public forums. The site says it is aimed at kids ages 5 to 14, and offers a huge variety of ways for children all across this very broad spectrum to have fun.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

SecretBuilders is so engrossing, that users may not even realize that it also has a strong educational element. Many of the games introduce basic concepts in science, math, and the humanities, and players will encounter important people from history such as Albert Einstein and William Shakespeare. Children are strongly encouraged to help develop new content by submitting ideas and requests for new features and activities, which will likely create a stronger sense of community. There's a charitable bend, too; in the SecretBuilder School kids can earn money for charity by playing learning games (advertisers donate $0.002 per correct answer).

 

Online interaction: The developers have taken pains to make the site a safe place for young people, by ensuring that parents can keep tabs on their kids' activities and online friends, offering different chat modes for younger and older players, and by screening user-submitted information for inappropriate content.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about combining education and entertainment. Is it possible to make games both fun and educational? Is a game less fun if it also tries to teach something? Do the games on this site seem like school? Do they make learning fun? Do some seem more like lessons than others? How would you make learning into a game?

  • What's safe to share online? Interactions in online worlds can be rewarding and fun, but everyone should take a few basic precautions. Prepare yourself and your kids for interaction in an online world. Read our tips for kids in an online world.

  • Who is that orange monster with purple hair and combat boots? It might be your child's avatar. Common Sense Media's All About Avatars explains what you need to know about avatars and how to bring up the orange monster in the room.

Website details

Genre:Virtual Worlds
Pricing structure:Free

This review of SecretBuilders was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bykarpawalsh@msn.com January 16, 2009
age 5+
 

Inappropriate chatting

At first I was very pleased with this site. After using it for several days and really enjoying it, another playing sent a message to my daughter saying" hey you and I would be great together !" then another one said " wanna go out with me ? that phrase seems to be very common. Then worse of all someone called her a loser and a jerk. My daughter is no longer allowed to use the site. Karpawalsh
Kid, 8 years old February 16, 2013
age 8+
 
LEARNING

I think its Fair

I think its fair , Alot of things you can do you can sleep (NOT IN THE SAME BED AS ANYBODY) Also if anybody says do you want to have .... You know they will be banned and the word will not be showed :) Awesome quests that teach kids
Adult Written bynorcaldad July 7, 2009
age 11+
 

safe, educational and fun! what more could a parent want?

this site is constantly playing with their filters and improving it. The previous reviewer mentioned the dating talk was passing the filters. not so anymore. I trust my kids on this site more so than club penguin. I have an 11 year old and a 8 year old.

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