A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Kids use a secret code that comes on the Shining Star stuffed animal's tag to register on WWW.SHININGSTARS.COM, choose the name and location of a star to "adopt," name the virtual version of their plush toy, and select positive terms to describe their new friend, such as "friendly" or "musical." The site has games for kids -- including memory games -- as well as an incentive to play often by awarding "glow points," which are used to buy music downloads (original tunes) and short Shining Stars-themed films. (They can also be donated to a children's charity featured on the site.) You're awarded several thousand points upon registering, but it's not hard to burn through those with a few clicks buying trees, buildings, and vehicles to design a scene for your Shining Star to play in. Users also can submit wishes online or send inspirational e-cards.
Is it any good?
Shining Stars is upbeat and interactive enough to hold kids' interest for some time -- items in most sections giggle and go boing, and activities require clicking and moving icons. The site's only real detriment is that bouncing back and forth between sections can prompt the site to request you to log in again -- which slows down the fun.
Online interaction: The chat only allows users to choose from canned sayings like "Hey There" and "What's Up?"