The Educational Coolness of Various Kid Virtual Worlds

From Club Penguin, Disney’s Toon Town, There, Nicktropolis, WebKinz, and many others, children (ages 8 to 14) are exploring multi-user worlds and environments while learning on— and offline life lessons. They’re quickly evolving into a web–savvy user base that will form and shape the next generation of Web user and—eventually—your future customer.

Learning From Our Kids

Chad Stoller, author of the article, goes to on talk about what kids are learning from these virtual worlds.  I’m only going to list them, but I encourage you to take a look at the article– Stoller explains the whys/hows of each bulleted point. 🙂

  • Economy and value.
  • Saving versus spending.
  • Security and password sharing.
  • Leveling up.
  • Customization.
  • Offline to online

All in all– a lot of what these virtual worlds (like neopets) remind me of is a project I had to do when student teaching.  If I remember correctly, it was a Four-H project, teaching kids the responsibility while masking it in a fun game of pretend.  There was a roll-out map of a town, and we handed out occupational positions like roles in a play.  Everyone learned the importance of each others position, while we allowed them to dress up and actually OWN their own role– empowerment.

They loved it.  Kids have big eyes and they look up to adults.  Emulation and appreciation.  It’s not very often we allow ourselves to remember how cool adults were– jobs somehow = freedom.  Responsibility = popularity.  A grown up’s life = an oyster’s pearl.

As long as it is play, and you’re not pressuring kids… they’re always up for learning about life.  And virtual worlds like neopets & whyville & club penguin are perfect ways of reaching out to kids and teaching them elements of responsibility & understanding. 

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