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 Disney virtual world, aimed at 8- to 14-year-olds, is only open when staff can moderate it -- 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. EST (7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. PST). The avatars of staff members are clearly marked, wearing mouse ears and Disneyland Guide clothing. Words in chat go through a filter, which also bans e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and city and state names. Although the site is free and contains no ads to speak of, there are plenty of strategically placed billboards in many areas in the community. Kids are also encouraged to "buy" stuff for their personal rooms.
What's it about?
Who needs to travel to Disney's theme park when you've got an online version waiting for you at home? Based on the real-world place, Virtual Magical Kingdom is a beautifully drawn world where kids (mostly tweens) sign up for a free account, create an avatar, and then play games, chat with other avatars, explore the park's many areas, and decorate their own room. In order to "buy" goods for your room, you need game credits, which you can get by participating in activities around the site.
Is it any good?
The games are first rate, and kids can even make their own "games" using special objects and a lot of imagination. And, of course, there's chat. While kids can type freely, a filter flags bad words or anything that could give away a child's contact information, such as numbers or city names.
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