Club Penguin is a snowy virtual world inhabited by a sea of multi-colored penguins. Established in 2005, the growing virtual world was purchased by Disney in 2007. It continues to do well and has a loyal user base.
What Kids Love About Club Penguin
Kids love penguins, so Club Penguin is already one step ahead of the game in that regard. The virtual world also has a nice balance of chat areas, games and special activities to keep kids engaged.
It's colorful and creative with activities that appeal to a wide variety of personalities (including many adults).
Club Penguin strives to create a strong sense of community. They host contests, promotions and charitable events. Kids can feel good about their online play while making new friends.
What Parents Love About Club Penguin
Under the Disney umbrella, Club Penguin strives to be a safe, positive spot for kids and families. The basic rules users must agree to speak to that fact:
- Respect other penguins.
- No inappropriate talk.
- Never reveal your personal information
- No cheating.
Disney also added parental controls to the site, allowing parents to:
- choose between a "safe" chat mode (canned messages only) and free chat
- designate the time of day/length of time kids can be on Club Penguin
- change the child's password
- view account activity
In addition to teaching good practices in online communities and promoting safe behavior, Club Penguin encourages education with fun learning games and good citizenship with charitable activities.
It's generally a positive place to be.
What's Not So Loveable
Residing in a popular virtual world has its drawbacks. The primary one is overcrowding. If you log on during popular times of day, you'll find yourself drowning in look-alike penguins. For younger kids and new members, it's a bit overwhelming.
It's hard to read the names of each penguin, and the chat becomes hard to read and follow.
Another challenge about Club Penguin is that many of the popular features are for members only. For example, although you can customize the color of your penguin, you can't dress him/her unless you have a membership. Non-members stand out like a sore thumb. Luckily, there are a lot of them! While it's common for membership-based sites to have features only for premium accounts, it's nice to have a basic set of options (and clothes) available for those who aren't yet paying customers. This is especially true in sites geared towards kids.
One other thing parents should note is although all of the chat is moderated, kids (and adults) are creative about expressing themselves in ways that bypass filters and moderators. Make sure to limit chat for younger kids. They can still enjoyed playing the game and communicating with others, but the content will remain age-appropriate.
The Bottom Line
Club Penguin is a positive place for the whole family to play. Parents will still have to deal with requests for paid memberships, but can at least be assured that their children won't be logged on all day and night!
Club Penguin is geared for ages 6-14 and is free for basic registration. Memberships start at $7.95 for a single month, with discounts for purchasing 6 or 12 months.
Check out these other options for virtual worlds for kids.