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The Social Networking of Penguins

This is not new news, as it’s been reported by a few media resources and blogs already. But it’s a new experience for me. Last night I discovered and enjoyed social networking for preteens in an environment known as Club Penguin, where I played games and made friends.

This is not new news, as it’s been reported by a few media resources and blogs already. But it’s a new experience for me. Last night I discovered and enjoyed social networking for preteens in an environment known as Club Penguin, where I played games and made friends.

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And no, I probably shouldn’t have been there, especially since the British Columbia-based Web company strives to make the site as safe as possible for its young participants. At first, I was a little bored, but that was only because I hadn’t yet made sense of what it was all about. That was up until an 8-year-old showed me the way.

My colorful penguin had a unique screen name and lived in an igloo, but mainly waddled around what appears to be the North Pole, while making friends and playing games. While playing games, my penguin earned virtual coins with which it could purchase items to trick out its igloo or adopt cute, cuddly pets called Puffles. There are even paid memberships that enable users to adopt more pets, more TVs and stereos for their igloos, and throw parties for their penguin friends. Paid memberships even enable users to outfit their penguins in various styles.

What really makes this virtual community nice is the safety there. No one shares personal information, and there’s a tool for reporting any penguin who starts blabbing about who they really are or where they live. Better still, the contact between penguins only takes place at Club Penguin. And according to the community’s privacy policy, “We do not knowingly collect names and email addresses from children under 13. We always require children under 13 to use a parent or guardians email address instead.” Message chat also has two safety measures built in. One that limits what users can say to a set of predefined greetings, questions, statements, and emoticons. The other filters and blocks inappropriate words and phrases that might be offensive. And there’s always the reporting feature built in, for kids who feel like they aren’t safe, or perhaps not even really chatting with another child.

I had a great time learning about Club Penguin, but I think that in the future I’ll partake only in over-the-shoulder glances at my 8-year-old guide’s play.

About the author

Lynne d Johnson is a Content + Community Consultant developing content and community strategies that help brands better tell their stories and build better relationships with people toward driving brand awareness, loyalty, and purchase intent. She has been writing about tech and media since the Web 1.0 days, most recently about how the future of consumer interactions will be driven by augmented reality and wearable tech.

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