If you have or know a kid around 6 to 8 years old then you probably have heard of Webkinz and chances are you too may have been bitten by the bug.
Webkinz are real small plush toys that virtually live in the online Webkinz World created by a tightlipped Canadian toy company called Ganz that declined to answer any of our technical questions about the security of their Web site or the network infrastructure used to support it. It did say it has sold more than 1 million Webkinz.
Each Webkinz, there are about 60 now, come with a tag that includes a secret code kids register on the Webkinz World Web site.
And then they’re hooked. Here children create a special environment just for their plush. Of course they’re holding their stuffed animal, but the toy is virtually living in the Webkinz World.
But Webkinz aren’t only for the kids. Many adults fess-up to having Webkinz of their own. According to an unscientific online Network World survey, about 25 percent of parents that have kids that are into Webkinz admit to secretly having their own Webkinz that they feed and exercise during downtime at work.
And even more seem very familiar with the games, even citing their favorites, although they’re not playing on the job.
One adult Webkinz user says, “addiction to the games is imminent.”
Another says “I need to get my kids in to rehab to break their Webkinz addiction.”
And another, who says his username is “Fluffydad,” says “my kids are Webkinzaholics. I haven’t spoken a word to them since Valentines Day.”
One grandmother says when she and her grandson stumbled on Webkinz last summer “it changed her life.”
Now she’s totally addicted. “I have 10 Webkinz and five different accounts,” says Sharyn Morin, a vet technician. She says she visits all five of her accounts daily and her grandson’s three after he goes to bed to be sure he “did his daily activities,” with all of his Webkinz.
Daily activities include exercising their animals, feeding them and keeping them happy by spending time with them. Kids see happy, health and hunger meters for their plush that lets them know if they’re taking good care of their pals.
Webkinz care givers can also create and furnish rooms, and buy more food and clothes for their virtual pets. They make all of these purchases with KinzCash. Each toy includes 2,000 in KinzCash. Kids can then play Webkinz arcade games to win more KinzCash used to buy more goodies for their pets.
The company also offers KinzChat, which the company says is safe because no personal information is shared.