Common Sense says
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that kids don't need to register for this princess-themed site, based on Disney's Sofia the First TV show. The site currency, stars, are given out for playing games; users also receive 30 for signing up. Kids can spend stars on virtual avatar outfits and decor.
What's it about?
Kids can play games, dress up a princess avatar, and personalize different rooms in Sofia's World, based on characters from Disney Junior's animated Sofia the First series. The show involves a commoner who, after her mother marries the king, becomes a princess. On the site, kids earn stars for exploring Sofia's castle and completing various game levels; they can use stars to purchase avatar accessories and other items. Games are simple; kids decorate cupcakes to look like a prototype treat; in another, they help Sofia avoid objects in a hallway as she tries to balance a book on her head. Kids also can print out coloring pages and watch a few show clips.
Is it any good?
SOFIA'S WORLD is sparkly and regal; characters wear elegant dresses, wander around stately castles, and practice their posture and waltzing skills. The Disney Junior show's website features lush graphics -- snack treats dance, dishes magically wash themselves and flying fish kiss mid-air -- and remembers kids' avatar and room decor choices without the need for registering or saving. (The site uses a Flash cookie to record avatar and other information.)
Girls who are passionate about the princess lifestyle likely will love the site's virtual world aspects. However, many of the site games and other activities don't offer much educational value. Kids will practice following instructions, thanks to the thorough explanation that precedes each game, but many involve, at most, only basic hand-eye coordination skills. Kids generally won't get a ton of new skills or be able to practice preexisting ones. However, Sofia's World is a fun and safe site for spending a little time -- kids can't chat with each other or email, and they don't have to enter a single piece of identifiable information.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss why sites that don't make you register and log in are safer. What kind of information should you avoid entering on sites that require registration?
It's easy to get sucked in to sites with a lot of games and other things to do. Discuss the amount of time your child should be spending online each day -- particularly on sites that offer more just-for-fun activities than educational exercises.
Kids can use the site without owning any Sofia's World merchandise, but the site links to a separate, fully stocked Disney Store site. Can your child have fun in Sofia's World without feeling pressure to buy anything?
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