Zwinktopia

Website review by
Heidi Kotansky, Common Sense Media
Zwinktopia Website Poster Image
Filters don't prevent exchange of personal info.
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 46 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive messages

Allows teens to hone their friendship-making skills online -- but it's also a place where being rude is easy as there are no real-life, face-to-face consequences.

Violence

Violent content isn't allowed, but creative posters may be able to sneak something in.

Sex

Blatant sexual content isn't allowed, but creative posters can alter word spellings. There's a lot of "U R a hottie" talk.

Language

Profanity isn't allowed, but creative posters can alter word spellings to sneak in a "fu" or something much worse.

Consumerism

Teens are encouraged to earn ZBucks to go shopping for their avatars. Members can use real-world cash to pay for virtual goods.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although you have to be at least 13 to sign up on this popular social networking site, it's not appropriate for young teens. As they roam around the virtual world of Zwinktopia, kids can pick a place to go and chat with other avatars (or Zwinkies). Filters automatically replace bad words with "(bleep)," but there are ways around it -- typing "fu" instead of "f--k you" or "ssseeexy" instead of "sexy," for example. People can be harsh and say mean things or just simply walk away. They can also divulge personal information (age, location, MySpace page, e-mail address) in a matter of minutes. Teens are encouraged to earn ZBucks -- or use real-world cash -- to go shopping for their avatars. When they're not chatting, kids can also play harmless games that actually require a bit of concentration and hand-eye coordination in order to earn ZBucks -- a form of currency needed to buy your avatar new things.

User Reviews

Parent of a 11 year old Written bychocolate7709 January 9, 2011

unapropriate for kids under 14 for sure!!!!!!

dont really like it for kids under the age of 12. once i went onto zwinky with my child (shes 11) and there was alot of sexual content such as "123 to have...
Parent of a 17 year old Written bylololove200228 September 1, 2010
Kid, 8 years old August 23, 2010

Virus

Prompts kids to download toolbar, which is actually a virus.
Kid, 8 years old January 25, 2012

not for kids 9 and below

i went on zwinktopia and i got in a fight with a player she said a bad words so that means there are word kid can't hear and the sexul stuff is't that...

What's it about?

ZWINKTOPIA.COM enables social networking in a virtual world. Once you download the free program, head on over to your Zwinky's (avatar) dressing room to outfit him/her with an emotion, personalized hair, makeup, outfit, body type, and accessories. Some things such as background scenes or cool haircuts are locked and can be accessed by earning ZBucks, Zwinktopia's online currency -- or by using real-world cash. Games are the easiest way to rack up ZBucks; each place you visit has a corresponding themed game. The main attraction of Zwinktopia is the chat feature. Just because you're online, though, it doesn't mean that talking to folks gets any easier; social interactions can be just as awkward in Zwinktopia as they sometimes are in the real world. Online chatting can also get very personal very quickly, with avatars asking other avatars for information or to come visit them in person. If you do trust another avatar, you can invite him/her to be your friend. But if you want to have a friend that isn't in your age group, you need to know the person's email address to send an invitation. Once the invitation is accepted, you can correspond via ZNotes -- online emails that are posted on your Profile Page and may be viewed by the public.

Is it any good?

If you're looking for a simple place to chat with newly found best friends, this site might just be the place for you -- as long as you know that this virtual world does come with some problems. It's too bad that there aren't more games and that most of the ones that do exist are quite silly and boring. And, you can go through your hard-earned cash in no time at the mall where you pop into stores that sell everything from surf wear to punk gear. The best part of the shopping experience is that you can try things on before buying them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about social networking safety. What kind of information should be off limits, and what's OK to tell people? How can you report someone who's being rude, abusive, or inappropriate?

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