Whyville

 
(i)

 

Learning(i)

Social site with good edu value needs supervision.

What parents need to know

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
Not applicable

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.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • biology
  • ecosystems
  • physics

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • analyzing evidence

Responsibility & Ethics

  • respect for others

Health & Fitness

  • balanced diet

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

This popular virtual community for kids (mostly girls) ages 8 to 15 offers science- and math-centric learning games, chat, the opportunity to embellish avatars, and a fun place to hang out.

Learning Approach

Kids are free to play a wide variety of games and scenarios at their own pace. Some activities have immediate consequences: A bad diet makes avatars look pale and ocean pollution is a call for collective problem solving.

Support

Help is available from in-world characters such as Dr. Leila, as well as player-members serving as guides. Still, the vastness of the site can be overwhelming if kids are not sure where to start.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • biology
  • ecosystems
  • physics

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • analyzing evidence

Responsibility & Ethics

  • respect for others

Health & Fitness

  • balanced diet

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.

This Learning Rating review was written by Deborah Fields

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?

QUALITY
 

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?

Families can talk 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

Genre:Educational
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Whyville was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 9 years old January 25, 2015
 
LEARNING

Not For Kids

I used To Have A Account On This Site And When i Was On It It Was A Horrible Place I Saw People Having Sex And Once Someone Came Up To Me And Said Can I Rape You And I Saw People Drinking,Taking Drugs,Pretending To Kill People And Violence I Tried To Report This But They Said It Was Okay And I Reported Way Too Much They Banned Me And My Sisters. Today Me And My Sisters Don't Go On This Site Take It From Me. This Site Is For Adults!!!!!!!!!!!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns
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 here baby text me or call me shmexxi (sexy) so idk...iffy on this review...
What other families should know
Too much sex
Educator and Parent Written byLexvys February 8, 2014
 
LEARNING

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 skills like managing a business to earning a salary. Even though there is some dating and privacy concerns, I love Whyville. I'm xxMaghda on it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Safety and privacy concerns

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