There's a mini boom of kids' virtual world afoot, CNET reports, probably fueled the success of Webkinz and Neopets and Disney's acquisition of ClubPenguin. One reason: "more kids are flocking to imaginative, character-driven environments. An expected 53% of children on the Web will belong to a virtual world within four years, more than doubling the current population of 8.2 million members," reports CNET citing eMarketer figures. Other worlds and services CNET mentions are WebbliWorld.com from the creators of Wallace & Gromit, GaiaOnline.com, Stardoll.com, and Nickelodeon's Nicktropolis. I would add Whyville.net as another prominent one, and possible Finland-based Habbo.com, though it probably skews slightly older. A related CNET article asks, "Are kids ready for ads in such spaces?". Since this interactive advertising goes well beyond cereal boxes and TV spots to immersive games and other forms of direct involvement for children, it's a good question to ask.
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NetFamilyNews – by Anne Collier
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