Kids Virtual Worlds
Kids virtual worlds are the new trend among kids ages 6 to 17 because they are worlds where imagination and computer gaming come together. A variety of virtual worlds have popped up across the internet to take advantage of this new market which appeals to kids who want to enjoy creating their own characters instead of relying on characters designed by professionals. For preteen users webkinz World is a great place to learn and have fun. For teen users one of the best is one of the first – Teen Second Life.
Important note: Teen Second Life (SL) was closed on 01/21/2011 and its contents were transferred to the Second Life main grid. Most of the information below is mainly for historical purposes.
But Mom Plays Online!
Teen Second Life is a kids virtual world that allows kids to create an avatar, explore, build anything, chat and socialize with others in real time. It is based on the successful adult version of the game Second Life. This is a version that enables kids to have some good clean fun on the computer while using some of the most advanced online software available today.
Adults have made Second Life the number one online virtual world on the internet, but fears arose that it was not a safe place for children. Linden Lab, the creator of Second Life, went back to the drawing boards and came online with Teen Second Life.
Linden Lab implemented unique applications to keep their kids virtual world safe. Adults are not allowed unless they have prior permission from Linden Lab. Even then, admission is limited to educators and non-profits who have completed a background check. Kids in Teen Second Life are safe from predators and adult content.
Each child on Teen Second Life must register and create an account. Like other kids virtual worlds the site requires parents to OK their kid’s application. During the registration form kids have to choose their avatar starting look. Once the application has been approved they can customize their avatar in-world.
Avatars are easy to customize and can be a realistic representation of the child or can be a fantasy creation. Mythical creatures are very popular on the site, more so than on adult Second Life.
Avatars can be customized with 150 appearance sliders, attachments, clothing, skins, tattoos and custom gestures.
Play and Learn
Kids are attracted to virtual worlds because it allows them to express themselves without fear or ridicule. Their avatar is the means by which they communicate and others need never know their real name or where they live. They should stay anonymous in order to enjoy a fun and safe online environment.
Play is completed on “islands” in Teen second Life. Each island has a theme that can range from educational to charitable. Many schools are experimenting with kids virtual worlds as a platform for communication. Non-profits use the virtual world to tell kids about their projects and get them to volunteer for causes.
Virtual World Campus is an island where educators can interact with students and even teach lessons. Project Cabrillo is another island that displays teen artwork showing their projects and focuses on social interaction. British Council Isle is a project focused on learning English and having an intercultural meeting space between English learners and native speakers.
The main thing to recognize is that some teen virtual worlds are safe. They give students the chance to learn and act. There are causes a teen may have never been aware of that are now accessible to him. Like Teen Second Life, many of these worlds are safe to explore and provide a safe environment for self expression.
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