How to Have Some Virtual, Kid-Friendly Fun

As you well know, I’ve been very interested about how we guide our children to be good online citizens. Even though I spend countless hours engaging with people on Twitter and Facebook and here, I haven’t really figured it out how to parent the next gen digital native, which is why I’m very slowly and carefully introducing them to the online world.

One of our regular guests, Youthologist Vanessa Van Petten had some great advice in our interview on internet safety. That is, treat the online world just like the real world! Duh! Ease your kids into online participation, giving them more and more freedom and responsibility as they get older. Now that my kids are 8 and 6, I take them to the playground and let them play relatively freely, but I don’t leave them there!!!

Likewise, I’m starting to let them play on ONE safe site:

The reason I picked BABV is because I had the chance to hear from the people responsible for their digital operations and it was comforting to hear that every chat is monitored and every questionable incident gets investigated. They take this issue very seriously and are committed to working with online moms to ensure the safety of our kids. Not only that but the site content, totally in line with the Build-A-Bear brand, is all about “edutainment.” They’ve built in lessons on good cyber citizenship into the games and incentives in BABV. Is that how Club Penguin and Webkinz are too? Don’t know since I’ve never spent anytime there so if so, clue me in.

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One of the things that piqued my interest while visiting at our friends at Build-A-Bear last week was their virtual summer camp, Camp Happy Heart. I even asked for more information from my new friend, Shannon. If you are looking for good, clean online fun that you could supervise with your kids as Vanessa recommended, here’s a great option! It starts on Friday, to coincide with the release of their ice cream bear collection (see fun pics below).

From Shannon:
Beginning July 2, Build-A-Bearville will host the third annual Camp Happy Heart, the largest summer camp in the virtual world.  Last year, over 400,000 campers participated in the online activities at  This year, Camp Happy Heart is expecting even more campers to its exciting camp program. Campers can play special online games and quests including:
·         Marshmallow roasting
·         Jump rope
·         Bear-2-Bear Tug-A-Hug

Guests will enjoy exploring Camp Happy Heart which is lead by a counselor bear from the Ice Cream Bear Collection. Once registered to join the camp, individuals will be put on a team and given daily tasks to complete in order to earn team points. Guests can also write their own camp- themed story featuring their favorite Ice Cream Bear. At the end of camp, each participant will receive a team poster for their virtual Cub Condo and the winning team will receive a 2010 Camp Happy Heart trophy, interactive camp fire and camp bed for their Cub Condo house.

So I’ve been enjoying observing how my kids explore the ‘ville! Yes, my daughter and I have been shopping in Furbulous Fashion District and I, er, I mean Zia Adventure has been helping them furnish their Cub Condos. Okay, it’s a little surreal but at least on BABV, they can actually afford bunk beds.

I’d love your thoughts on this virtual kid world. Where do you go with your kids? What sites do you recommend?

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