Last week, Amazon sent me a bunch of Webkinz info in my weekly email. So now I’m worried – what on earth during my searches for books on online communities, popular marketing, new agey stuff and murder mysteries (although “cozy” mysterys are more my speed) would make them think I was interested in children’s toys? It’s even scarier that they are so perceptive, because in some deep , dark, secret, unadmitted place within myself, I am… I adore ’em! I love having nieces and nephews cos I buy them what I want to play with. But never, ever from social behaviourist monitors like Amazon. I’m not THAT dumb. I don’t even buy snugglywuggly soft toys and gorgeous dolls houses and noisy big red trucks with a credit card. But some how they discovered my love of all things twee, and outed me, in that cold, inhuman way of theirs…
But back to the subject: Webkinz. Here’s the Washington Post‘s take on it all.
In real life, all that 10-year-old Megan Leffew’s cuddly stuffed animals can do is sit on her bed in her room in Rockville. But online, they can play air hockey, whip up a fish-and-chips dinner or take a dip in a hot tub.
They are called Webkinz, huggable, plush toys with elaborate virtual lives that spotlight how children’s play is changing, moving effortlessly between the real world and the Web. And in less than two years, they have become must-have items for tech-savvy ‘tweeners.
“Play always reflects the adult world,” said Christopher Byrne, an independent toy analyst who goes by the Toy Guy. “It’s kids aspiring to have a MySpace page, but cognitively and developmentally, they’re not ready for that. This gives them the experience of sharing and connecting with friends.”
Webkinz combines classic stuffed animals with popular online trends, such as social networking and instant messaging. Other toys and Web sites have made similar efforts. Remember the late-1990s craze of Tamagotchi, billed as the world’s first digital pet? More recently, Neopets.com began manufacturing such plush toys as the “cybunny,” which mirrored the virtual animals on its site. But Webkinz claims to be the first to marry the physical and the virtual from its inception.
I’ve got a great book called “The Great TWEEN buying Machine” if you’d like to borrow it. I bought it from Amazon. *AHA* Oh gosh, I just had an Aha moment. Amazon, tweens… did I just ‘fess up for no good reason?
Ah well, back to the issue – how do we manage childhood obesity when children are not only watching their parents turn into potatoes with a TV remote in their hand, but are now being given the toys and entertainment to follow mum and dad even quicker down that path? It’s not called compelling content for no reason, ya know! Well, people who have heard me speak at forums and presentations, know that I have some strong propositions in this area, but suffice to say it has to do with not banning or making contraband these toys, but developing further the technology to assist and make fun the educational and fitness aspects. According to a UK fitness website, if done correctly, our children may have a fitter and more aware childhood than we did…
PS Don’t you just love The Washington Post’s Technorati trackbacks? What a greatWeb 2.0 web anayltics function for you… how many people are talking about your Press Release, your Article, your Corporate blog? Shame our Australian newspapers block out html and http addresses… distribution and syndication is not the name of the game here, sadly. I wonder if the WP’s trackback section is part of the deal between Technorati and AP that was done ages ago?