What are Webkinz? The Latest Mass Merchandising Kiddie Addiction
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Ask any 8-11 year old what Webkinz are, and you’re likely to get a rave, full of the sort of wild-eyed enthusiasm usually reserved for older Kool-aid drinkers. But ask any parent of said 8-11 year old about Webkins, and you’re likely to get a groan, if not an outright oath (and we don’t mean of allegiance). Because the Webkinz rage – spawned over at Webkinz.com – is the newest avenue to online gaming addiction in children.

But let’s back up a step. Just what are Webkinz? Webkinz are one of the newest and most successful efforts to tap into that vast reserve of endless marking dollars – kids.


Remember the Beanie Baby craze? And Cabbage Patch dolls? Remember how part of the appeal was those adoption certificates? Well, Webkinz takes it to an insidious next step. You have to go online to get the adoption certificate for your adorable stuffed Webkin, where you’ll discover that your Webkin has an online alter ego. And that online alter ego can interact with other Webkinz online alter egos. For hours and hours.

In fact, children are ‘encouraged’ to spend a great deal of time on the Webkinz site in a fairly devious manner: if your pet Webkinz doesn’t get enough of the right kind of attention (food, etc.), it will become ill. What kid wants that? Like Tamagotchi before it, Webkinz has managed to ensure that with the first taste, kids are hooked.

And make no mistake, hooked they are. The addiction that kids experience to Webkinz has raised concern from parents and experts alike. They have been banned in classrooms because children are unable to attend to their schoolwork due to the distraction of Webkinz in the classroom.

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But it is the online Internet activity that causes most experts and parents the most concern. Because it is the Webkinz online world, and the games, and the need to feed and tend to your Webkinz lest it become ill, that is pushing the online kiddie gaming addiction. Of course, the fact that they have games called “Booger” and “Dicekinz” (a dice game) might be enough to lead some parents to make Webkinz off limits (if only more parents actually checked out what their children were doing online).

Unfortunately, more and more children – who, after all, learn from example – are themselves living in environments where they see their own parents playing online games for hours on end – often very violent games. After all, compared to World of Warcraft, or other such games, Webkinz can’t be bad, right?

And that is where it all starts.

 

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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