Virtual Worlds for Kids

Is there a virtual world your child enjoys? Are they safe? And - do they cost anything?

Let's delve into the wonderful world of virtual gaming for our kiddies!

Below you'll find my reviews of places for pet lovers...

...others for little girls... well as educational game worlds.

Which one might suit your child?

For pets, worlds for little girls, or educational fun:

My reviews of virtual pets for kids will lead you to some cuddly critters including Webkinz, Beanie Babies, SeaPals and more.

What about your little girls? Dolls, horses and fairies, with virtual makeover games, cool fashion boutique fun, and fun room makeovers!

OK - so you're feeling guilty that your kid is playing online. Cheer up! How about some educational virtual worlds to keep your little boy or girl busy?

Some great sites to visit now:

Little Space heroes
Choose and name your character, fill in the form to register, and play for free if you like! This isn't just a world - no, this is a universe with games, mysteries, and quests for kids under 12:

Well, this looks different! We've created a rather weird pink Toonix character with a goldfish bowl sticking out of the top of her head ;)

Tip: to move, use the arrow keys. Jump with the space bar. Follow the training advice which you can get if you click the question mark button :)

Just see what's going on here - looks fun!

GardenParty is a new online kids' interacitve world for kids five or six and up, which aims to encourage children to explore and discover - all within a beautifully created garden world. Kids get their own garden where they can grow seeds (bought from the shop), water them, and care for their plants. There's also a tree house which they can furnish and decorate.

Get points to buy stuff by playing games and clicking on items around the world. You can also sell stuff you don't need.

The site is moderated. It's easy to sign up, and you get the option of Very Safe mode, where only predefined words and phrases are allowed, or Standard Filter, which is a filtered chat mode. Moderators also run games on the site, which kids can enjoy participating in.

It takes a bit of time to wander about and find what to do, but this all adds to the magic of the Garden! And of course there's always Peppy, your owl guide, to help you out within each section of the site if you get stuck.

Poptropica's a free site for kids from around 7 years and up. You don't have to register, but if you do, you can save your game.

This virtual world involves a set of islands such as Shark Tooth Island or Time Tangled Island, each of which offers a mission to complete. Start off by customizing your avatar, then moving around your first island to see what's going on. Update your clothes with the Costumizer! Move from island to island, collect items, play games. There's a prescripted chat option only.

Phew! We've just signed up, got our activation email, and now we have Squizzle the squirrel showing us around!

Now, this site is pretty social - so not for the little ones - and your child can wander about, meet new friends, chat, buy stuff, play mini games, and work out where to go and what to do all with Squizzle's help if necessary.

What is a kids' virtual world? Here's how to spot a kid virtual world:

  • You or your child may have to sign up to join as a member
    Sometimes you can play some games without becoming a member, to get a feel for the site.
  • You may have to pay
    This could be a monthly or yearly payment. Or you may have to buy a toy that contains that famous "secret code" in order to be able to log onto the website. There may also be other goods that can be bought offline that give you further access to other areas of the site.
  • Your child is part of a world where they can create their own identity...
    ...or create someone else's identity. Or even a pet's identity. So, building and decorating a virtual house, dressing up, or keeping your virtual pet happy and healthy could be part of your child's activities. There may also be virtual money to earn and spend.
  • There is often an element (or more than an element) of socializing
    Your child may only be able to use a choice of prepared words or phrases to communicate in general to other virtual visitors; or there may be more complex socializing allowed, with varying degrees of parental control.

There's a huge range of kid virtual world experiences online, and here you'll find a selection of the best. They range from plush toy kid virtual pet sites, to educational virtual worlds, virtual websites for girls, and pure adventurous game fun.

Almost all of the sites reviewed have pages for parents - and these are a must for checking out any concerns you may have about privacy and chat options. You'll also find FAQ pages and virtual tours to help you decide if these sites are right for your child.

Some sites are designed with younger children in mind - four or five year olds. Many will appeal to kids of six or seven and up, and some are more for the eight year olds and up. I think it's best if you can do all the registration yourself, and then help your child log in and start navigating the site - make it an activity you do together at first, so that your child, and you, feel entirely comfortable with what's going on.

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