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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 new virtual reality sports site from the creators of Whyville.net requires users to be at least 13, though there's nothing to prevent a kid from entering an older birth date when registering (users also give an email address, username, and password). The site is based around chatting with other users about sports. There's no chat filter, but the guidelines prohibit profanity and hate speech, and violators are punished with "yellow cards" or "ejections." So far, there was no iffy language on the site (other than one "WTF"), but that could change as more people join. Users can visit virtual bars if they're 21. The SportsBLOX bank isn't open yet, but soon users will be able to get BLOXbux to buy things like virtual goods and tickets to special events.
What's it about?
Like many second-generation Second Life-type sites -- see VLES.com for a recent example -- SPORTSBLOX.COM is a 3-D online community for a specific demographic: in this case, sports fans. Users can create an avatar and then explore 20+ places, like Herb's Deli or Curveball, many of which are dedicated to a certain sport. Users can chat with each other about sports or browse through recent topics of discussion. There's also a feature that allows users to find others who like the same sports.
Is it any good?
If you build it, will they come? The jury's still out on SportsBLOX.com from the creators of Whyville.net. There aren't many fans on the site yet, so there's not much to do other than check out the different locations. SportsBLOX.com is still in beta though, and the FAQs promise games, events, a virtual store, and more places to visit in upcoming weeks. The site has a sophisticated look and a cool concept behind it; with more users and more activities, it could score a lot of points. Sports fans might want to check back in a few months to see how the site has progressed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about safety in virtual worlds. How do you know if you can trust someone online? What are the potential pitfalls of sharing personal information online? What kind of information is off limits? Families can also talk about virtual communities and identity. What appeals to teens about using an avatar rather than a true identity? What does an avatar tell you about the real person behind it?
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