I've been reading several reviews here on Webkinz.com, the site of which I have been a member since 2008, and I've found a lot of negative reviews from adults with a lot of positive reviews from the kids. So I thought I'd add my view on this, since I've begun to play on the site again in a nostalgic way. I practically grew up as a Webkinz member in my latter years from 12 years old to now, at 17, so I've seen most of the changes in its lifetime.
The main drawback that I see from users (or rather, parents of users) here is the site's promotion of consumerism. First off, I wish to establish that Webkinz is a product and you, by using it, are dubbed as a consumer. Therefore, from a business standpoint, of course Webkinz will promote consumerism because that is how they stay in business. Pretty black and white if you ask me. Of course, many parents are worried about their children falling victim to extreme consumerism.
Before you allow your child to play Webkinz, or as time progresses, just remind your child that Webkinz is just a game as well as a store, and that stores want customers to buy things. If your kid wants something else from Webkinz, make them get their own job at YOUR Employment Office and pay them a small sum only when they do the full job and do it well. I got five bucks a week guys, and only if I did every single chore on my weekly list. (I was so underpaid, haha. But I learned dollar value.) The value of a Webkinz dollar, or KinzCash, may be an economist's nightmare on inflation, but you can teach your kids the real value of a dollar in the real world through hard work and earning what you want. I believe that's called capitalism, which is the opposite of consumerism. Not only will you end up teaching children a beginning part of economics, but you'll also show them that they can't just have everything handed to them, and in the real world, there's hard work before a reward. This leads me to my next topic.
From a few reviews I saw, it almost sounds like some actually expect a virtual reality game to teach real life principles and if the game doesn't then it's pointless. People. It's a game. If it were just like reality, it wouldn't be any fun. I saw one person saying you only have to do about two minutes of work and you get a lot of money. Well come on, really, if your kid had to get an 8 hour job on the computer to take care of their pet like in real life, would anyone actually play that?! Nope. It's supposed to be fun! Let the game be the game and real life be real life. In the end, you're responsible for teaching your kids, not some computer game. Any "educational game" is merely a tool to help make learning a little more fun than traditional public education. I'd also like to briefly touch on the arcade which many think is gambling. Not really. There's only two games that provide an abnormal amount of KinzCash by chance and probability, and you can only play those games once a day. Plus, gambling is betting an asset, like cash, in hopes of a larger return with very small odds of a giant return. (I like to think of it as blind investing.) None of the games in the arcade require KinzCash to play. So it's not really gambling. It's just playing a game and getting paid a little to do it. The arcade is also the lowest income source, on average, in Webkinz world. Just remember this is a game guys. It's not real life, nor is it meant to teach you everything about real life.
To finish my review, which has now become an essay, I'll quickly discuss on Webkinz "costing a lot of money." Actually, it isn't as horrible as it once was. You used to have to adopt a pet every year at least or they threatened to delete your account. I assume they got a real bad rap on that with kids thinking their Webkinz would die and all. My account is still there and I haven't adopted since 2009. It's 2014. Deluxe Membership is a curse and a blessing. It's good because it allows Webkinz to make money while still letting players who haven't adopted into Webkinz world. It's bad because it makes kids feel like their missing out, and we all know kids of all people HATE being left out. But, one word. Moderation. When you go out and buy a car, you probably don't get the most expensive model there with the most options on it, do you? Not unless that's what you really want and what's best for you. Same with Webkinz. Show your kids that having fun is not all about spending money and buying everything. Just because there's all the Deluxe Membership and eStore points available doesn't mean you have to get it in order to have fun. And again, if your child really does want that, make them work for it to realize how much they really want it. You could also say they need to think about it for a while. Whenever I saw something at a store that I really wanted, my parents would always tell me that I needed to think about it for a little while. If, after a few days, I really did want it, then I was allowed to go back to the store to purchase it, with a little help from mom and dad if it was really expensive (however, whenever I did get help, I almost always was put "on credit" and expected to pay back what I had borrowed.) You can see that this would definitely make me want to save my money, so when I found something I really liked and wanted I would have enough funds to buy it. So when I became a teen and had my own job at $7 an hour, not only did I feel super rich making in an hour what formerly took me a week and a half, but I never bought anything without first spending a week or sometimes a month thinking about it and researching it. Only recently have I bought things more "on the spot" but it's always something essential like vitamins, a snack I need to keep me awake before I drive a while, or a few cosmetic items. Chores and allowance work wonders on making smart finance officers out of kids, and since Webkinz is a favorite of several kids today, it really is a wonderful place to start.
So, things to remember:
-Webkinz is just a game
-Teach your kids capitalism versus consumerism and use Webkinz as a tool
-Webkinz is just a game
-Teaching hard work for great rewards as well as dollar value is one of the best real world concepts needed and yet so often neglected
-Webkinz is just a game
-And last but not least, Webkinz is just a game.
Hope this helps someone. I wouldn't have spent 20 minutes composing that if I thought it would not help anyone. :D
Humphrey Loves Kate
P.S. I haven't adopted a pet in 5 years. BUT I ordered the Endangered Signature Red Wolf from Amazon a day ago... for $45. "Garth" will be here tomorrow afternoon. :) But before you call my a hypocrite, get this. I took time to think about it and decide if I really wanted it. Obviously I did. My research found that this Webkinz is being discontinued, so once it's gone it's gone. Additionally, the Signature Timber Wolf is now worth $400 with a sealed code from private collectors, and just under $200 without a code! This is a stuffed animal that people were once complaining about paying $25 for! The entire Webkinz signature line is in the process of being dropped, so I hear, so as more and more are sold, the price is just going to go up because they're getting so rare. In about a year, my signature red wolf will probably be worth at least $100! Look at that! You can also teach your kids about investments with these! Please note that only the signature line of Webkinz skyrockets in price like this. The regular ones and Lil kinz are still worth about $10 even after retired. These are like a gold market!