A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What 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'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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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.
- Subjects: Math: arithmetic
Language & Reading: reading, writing
Social Studies: historical figures, history
- Skills: Self-Direction: academic development, work to achieve goals
Communication: friendship building
Thinking & Reasoning: problem solving, solving puzzles, strategy
- Genre: Virtual Worlds
- Pricing structure: Free