Thursday, December 13, 2007

Social Networking For Two-Year-Olds

Staff writer Louise Story, appropriately named, released an article in the New York Times online edition today headlined “Shift Away From Ad-Free Has a Price.” The story is basically reviewing how Children who visit, the popular virtual world for children who buy Webkinz stuffed animals, may also see advertisements on the site.

This site is in fact a social networking site for children as soon as they can read, sometimes earlier. They can do their own movie reviews, allow their online characters to be friends, etc..

The Webkinz site began running movie ads on its site in October, with ads for “Bee Movie” and later for “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” The ads run on the right side of the home page after users log in. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an advocacy group based in Boston, is demanding that the site remove the ads.
“One of the reasons why parents buy Webkinz for their children is the expectation that the site will be free from advertising,” said Susan Linn, the campaign’s director. “It’s disappointing that the site is choosing to maximize revenue at the expense of children.”

But hey, why not? Kids have a huge pull on their parents, and their influence and ability to force their parents to buy them things just to shut them up is impressive. Although, parents who strive for a “commercial free childhood,” are understandably outraged.

Here’s the rub. Guess what parents, you don’t have to let your kids use this Web site. If you are so concerned, use better parenting tools. Or with all of the time you are wasting complaining, you could ban together and create a new site. HHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMMM… Fancy that.

Jacqueline Rupp, a mother of two in Philadelphia, said she would stop allowing her children to use the site if Ganz did not stop all advertising. “I bought into the Webkinz phenomenon because there wasn’t mass marketing on the site,” said Ms. Rupp, adding that she has spent more than $300 on Webkinz toys in the last two years. “If you’re putting out $15 for the Webkinz doll, you are paying for the ability to have something ad-free.”

Just a fun little distraction…


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