Webkinz - Crack for Kids

After all the hooplah around Webkinz, I broke down and gave it a go. I am the proud parent of Jeremiah the Bullfrog. I wanted to see what the uber-cool kids web 2.0 application was like. I signed up, I entered my secret Webkinz activation code that came with Jeremiah, I was up and running.

With Webkinz, in theory, it’s all about learning and playing games.  Skills improvements, hand-eye co-ordination, and trivia. Aha. Not so fast. It’s about buying virtual crap for your pet. It’s about making enough Kinz Cash to get a waterbed, a bowl of Swamp stew, and an addition for your house. Play games and get cash, find stuff and get cash. Answer questions correctly, or win a contest and get more cash.  It’s a race to make 2500 “kinzcash” bucks a week to support your virtual pet and your very real shopping fetish.
And get this - the more webkinz you adopt (at $12 a pop), the more things you can buy, and the more “perks” you get. But don’t forget - your activation code is only good for 12 months, after which, if you still want to play, you’ve got to “renew” your adoption. 

To add further to the addiction, if you don’t play every day, you pet becomes depressed, starves and (likely) will end up dying.  I have yet to test this theory, it seems a tad excessive.  Kids are finding it easier to coerce their parents into taking care of their “kinz” while on vacation or camp. (I shudder at the Tamagotchi death tolls of 2005).  No parent wants to be responsible for the death of a pet, virtual or otherwise.

Webkinz is a vicious circle. Kids with a dozen or more adopted pets.  Purchased only so they can get more virtual goods on-line. I say again, it’s a vicious circle. Webkins encourages multiple pet adoptions by creating an “exclusive” area for those kids with a basketful of pets.  On your 10th adoption, the keys to the kingdom open, and you become one if the Webkins upper-crust with fancier virtual “accessories”, and improved options for shopping. I’ve got my heart set on a few of the “exclusive” items, but I’ll be damned if I buy 9 more webkinz for the “privilege” of having a circus themed room.
Parents: don’t be fooled. Don’t fall for it.  Go ahead and get your kid ONE of the damned, evil plushies, but don’t you dare fall for the “I need more Webkinz” pleading.  It will likely lead you on the path to ruin.
Buyer beware.

PS - Even Webinz recommends only 20 minutes a day of usage. Hmmm…. responsible of them ;-)


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