The internet and the virtual worlds that exist within it can be incredibly positive and rewarding places, especially for children.
For some, this might sound a little far-fetched but in actual fact, millions of children worldwide are now turning to the internet to learn, socialise and belong. In fact, Australian children between the ages of 7 – 12 spend on average 7.6 hours per week on the internet#. The virtual world is now a global reality.
A great example of where this is happening – and happening well – is in the perennially loved world of Disney. Through Club Penguin, the Walt Disney Company has nurtured a virtual fun zone, where children can play safely and develop important life skills along the way.
A flabbergasting 200-million Club Penguin accounts have been created around the globe, making it the international number one virtual world for children aged 6-12. Parents who prefer to do their research before their children join or participate in any virtual worlds should look for features that tend to be shared by respected, responsible and trusted businesses leading this space. These include:
Online safety for children should be paramount. The virtual worlds should be able to clearly demonstrate the raft of measures they have implemented – and maintain around-the-clock – in an effort to keep their world as safe as possible from predatory and/or bullying cyber behaviour.
Virtual play worlds for children can be an engaging way for them to break through social barriers that might exist in their real worlds, and connect with others from their generation in a very positive, affirmative way. Virtual worlds involve layers of socialisation that are every bit as rich and complex as they are in reality, thus giving children the confidence and skills they need to interact well with others.
Where there is play, there is learning, and certainly the virtual world is no different to reality in this respect! Quality virtual play worlds are an educative platform for developing literacy and/or numeracy skills.
Kids should be given every opportunity to just be kids, and that ideally means having plenty of fun! The very best virtual play world for kids will involve good old, quality kids’ FUN!
There is a lot that can be gained – virtually and in reality – when children interact and learn online!
Roy Morgan Young Australian Survey (Jan 12- Dec 12)