Type: Educational, Family, KidTech
Usage: General Use, Macintosh, Windows PC
In case you've been living under a rock, Ganz has an extensive, popular line of stuffed animals called Webkinz, each of which comes with a computer-based counterpart.
Affixed to each animal at point-of-purchase is a unique code that allows kids to personally name and play with the plush in virtual form, online at www.webkinz.com (Flash and Internet-connect PC or Mac required).
This text and icon-based web environment is self contained and totally safe, surreptitiously treating kids to rudimentary cognitive development in a pet "simulator" where games and activities abound, "money" is earned, items and baubles are bought and sold, basic computer skills are gleaned, and elementary social constructs are introduced in parent-authorized interactions with other Webkinz users.
What's more, there's now a Webkinz Jr. line (www.webkinzjr.com) offering the same unisex plush cum virtual pet doppelgangering, but designed for pre-readers specifically.
While still promoting learning, imagination and creativity on screen, the interactive icons of senior Webkinz are made bigger, lesser and less complex for Webkinz Jr., text prompts are replaced with cheery voice prompts, and it's almost impossible to do anything "wrong," per se. It's great stuff, filling at least one age-appropriated, resident tester with full-on glee.
Parents be warned: One Webkinz is never enough. And neither are twenty, apparently.
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