BarbieGirls.com Launches "Parents’ Place," with the First Interactive Tool for Families to Set Rules about Safe Online Play
BarbieGirls.com’s “Parents’ Place” Features Extensive Tools and
Content to Educate and Empower Parents and Initiate a Family Dialogue
About Playing Online
With 86 percent of kids ages 6-10 using a computer and 75 percent online(1), the Internet and virtual worlds are today’s new playground. As kids adopt digital play faster than ever before, parents are looking for ways to establish rules for playing online. To bridge the gap between parents and kids and provide parents with information and controls, BarbieGirls.com - one of the fastest growing virtual worlds for kids with 14 million registered users worldwide - today introduces “Parents’ Place.”
“Parents’ Place” is a parent-directed area on BarbieGirls.com that is built off a principle of Educate, Empower and Engage. The site will feature several tools to EDUCATE parents about online play and safety, EMPOWER parents with settings and controls appropriate for their children’s play online, and ENGAGE parents and kids in a dialogue about safe and appropriate online play. One of the featured tools on “Parents’ Place” is the “B Smart Pact,” an interactive activity for parents and kids to do together, posing a series of questions and scenarios to guide them through a conversation about protecting one’s privacy online, chatting safely, online etiquette/being nice, and length of time spent playing online. The B Smart Pact is also customizable, allowing parents to input individual rewards and consequences for rules, as well as write their own personal family rules (e.g. homework must be done before computer play.) Finally, the B Smart Pact is printable so families can print and post near the computer.
“As a mom, I have rules for how my kids play online - just like they have rules for playing near the pool or on the playground at school. I love what BarbieGirls.com is doing to inform and engage parents, and they’ve made it very easy for me to not only discuss rules with my daughter, but I’ve also shared the B Smart Pact with my son,” said Elizabeth Werner, Chief Toy Officer for iVillage.com. “The basic rules for playing online are truly universal and families can take these lessons and rules to wherever their kids play online.”
In April 2008, during the Keynote Address at the Virtual Worlds Conference in New York City BarbieGirls announced its plans for “Parents’ Place” and unveiled its first stage, the Parent Account feature, allowing parents to control their daughter’s online chat settings. Since the launch of the Parent’s Account on BarbieGirls.com, more than 250,000 parents have created accounts. In addition to allowing parents to control their daughter’s chat settings (drop-down phrases or type-in chat), parents are also notified about their daughter’s behavior on the site. If a Barbie Girls moderator warns or bans a user for attempting to break the site’s rules (e.g. trying to ask for or give out personal information), that user’s parent will be notified.
With the launch of today’s more robust Parents’ Place area, new interactive content sets the industry standard for what parents should look for in a kids’ website. Additional new tools include educational-focused content to teach parents about virtual worlds and online safety tips that keep online play safe and fun, as well as ways for moms and dads to update their daughters’ accounts, manage a daughter’s chat status and have a conversation with kids about online safety and behavior.
“Since its launch as the first-ever global virtual world introduced exclusively for girls, BarbieGirls.com leads in delivering safe and fun experiences for kids, and now leads in offering an unparalleled experience for parents,” said Chuck Scothon, General Manager and SVP, Girls Division, Mattel Brands. “Online content is today’s new toy, and we believe it is vital to inform and equip parents with the tools and information they need to become familiar with the new online playground. We want parents to be supportive of where and how their child plays, particularly as BarbieGirls.com has recently moved to a subscription model.”
BarbieGirls.com was launched in April 2007 as the first-ever virtual world designed exclusively for girls. Within three months the site hit 4 million registered users worldwide, quickly earning industry notice as the “fastest growing virtual world ever(2).” Now boasting 14 million registered users worldwide, BarbieGirls.com offers girls an unparalleled online play experience where they can create a personalized avatar, design and decorate an individualized room, make friends and chat, adopt and care for a pet, shop with virtual currency and play games. In June 2008, Barbie Girls launched Barbie Girls(TM) V.I.P. - a new, subscription-based version of the BarbieGirls.com virtual world for $5.99 for a one-month subscription. The subscription version offers girls more of what they love about the popular virtual world in a safe setting, including a world four times larger than its original size, with more games and new locations to explore. Barbie Girls(TM) fans can also still play on the site for no cost with a basic version of the virtual world.
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