22 February 2007

Social networking for 9-year olds [Newsweek]

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MyFirst MySpace
“Club Penguin is a leader among a tidal wave of new community Web sites designed specifically for tweens and even younger kids: think of it as MySpace in braces,” writes Brian Braiker in Newsweek.

“At Club Penguin, which launched in October 2005 and had 4 million unique visitors in January, according to comScore Media Metrix, your 8- to 14-year-old can waddle through a virtual world as a flightless waterfowl, interacting with other penguins of her choice. Registration is free, but if junior wants to decorate her penguin’s igloo or use other advanced features on the site, you’ll need to pay a $5.95 monthly membership. And Club Penguin is just the tip of the iceberg.

A new site designed for the skinned-knee demographic seems to pop up nearly every day. Their potential market is huge: there are some 28.5 million kids between the ages of 8 and 14 in the United States, according to emarketer.com. A 2006 Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg survey found that an equal 38 percent of both male and female teens aged 12 to 14 use MySpace (even though the site’s age cutoff is 14) or some other social-networking site.”

Sites featured: Club Penguin, Whyville, Habbo, Imbee, Tweenland, Webkinz, Nicktropolis, and Disney Xtreme Digital.

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