Whyville

Website review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Whyville Website Poster Image
Social site with good edu value needs supervision.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 33 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Kids can learn many things in Whyville, from science and data analysis to managing bank accounts and healthy diets. Kids might start by playing science games, such as exploring what causes seasons and how winds affect hot air balloons, or making objects spin faster (such as an ice skater). They can gather data about creatures in the ocean and compare it to other kids’ observations. They manage their avatar’s diet, exercise, and immunity from viruses. Kids can even study how diseases spread in Whyville. Activities may require help, but most empower kids to pursue science in ways that apply to everyday life.

Positive Messages

Like in any avatar world, kids can be rejected rudely. On the other hand, there are socially responsible messages, too.

Violence

Some kids choose violent monikers or use violent images in speech.

Sex

Chat rooms are not constantly monitored; lots of chats about who's getting with whom. A number of avatars have sex-inspired names ("Wannafak").

Language

Kids can misspell words to get around the filter. Some kids use violent speech such as "I want to hurt him until he dies," which the filters don't catch.

Consumerism

Areas are "sponsored" by Cheetah Girls, Scion, and more. Kids are encouraged to buy "clams" in order to purchase things by playing games. You can also pay for "clams" using real money via the Internet.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this site is a popular virtual community created for kids (mostly girls) ages 8 to 15, although it may not be appropriate for the younger side of that wide span. The main concern is that although the site uses a language filter and city workers review the chat log and warrant "duct tape sentences" to offenders, the chat is not monitored 24/7. But kids must take a instructive chat license test that teaches online safety features. Numerous safety measures built into the site help protect kids from online predators.

User Reviews

Adult Written byZacharyNB November 11, 2015

Invest time into the site, and you will reap the benefits.

Whyville's main focus has always been on educating its users. To this effect, it does very well: every user on whyville has a daily salary, and they recei... Continue reading
Adult Written byLexvys February 8, 2014

Whyville is EPIC

Whyville is one of the best virtual worlds I have ever seen. You can chat with friends and even be a stylist at a salon! This world teaches lots of real life sk... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old January 5, 2010

Hmm...

well I go on whyville and im 10 I think its okay for my age but suddenly im noticing there are people telling Each other THEIR PHONE NUMBERS!!! And saying oh he... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byHanaaS September 7, 2012

Its great!

Whyville is a great game for kids and teens, It teaches players how to make new friends, their own money, work to earn a salary, and even eat a healthy diet! I... Continue reading

What's it about?

On Whyville, users create an avatar and meet others. Together, they play science- and math-centric learning games, chat, spend virtual (or actual) money, and hang out. Set up to mirror a real-life community, users can participate in government. As in adult virtual communities such as Teen Second Life, users spend virtual money -- called clams, here -- to buy cars, build their own homes, and fancy up their avatars. Clams can be purchased with real money via PayPal or through gameplay.

Is it any good?

Although creators have included a number of safety measures (including registering for the site with a parent's email, requiring a parental permission slip to be sent via snail mail, taking a thorough pre-chat test, and reporting abuses by other players through a "911 report"), one of the site's major mishaps is that the chat rooms aren't monitored around the clock, so there can be predictable teen-like interchanges about "hooking up" and some inappropriately frank -- and sometimes hurtful -- comments.

Many of the educational components within Whyville are sponsored by well-respected institutions in the science, art, health and math fields, such as NASA and the John Paul Getty Trust. On the negative side, however, there are a lot of advertisers on the site, including Wal-Mart, Disney, and the car maker Scion. The constant call for clams and trumpeting of big-ticket items like cars makes Whyville somewhat of a conundrum for parents: Do the educational benefits outweigh the commercial influences?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how some activities on this site are different from other virtual worlds. Do your kids come to the site because it offers good community activities? Does the safety test help them feel safer exploring the site. Families can also take a tour of the site together and talk about what they see.

Website details

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