Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen children everywhere carrying around and talking about Webkinz. Webkinz are plush animals that come with a "secret code" that a child enters online to be taken to the virtual world of that character. Once they own the pet, they need to go online to feed and care for it. They also earn KinzCash by spending "just 20 minutes" on the site each day. They can then spend this KinzCash on virtual food and accessories for their pet.
The Webkinz site is one of many online environments designed specifically to attract and market to kids. Dr. Michael Rich, Director of CMCH, was interviewed for an article in the Seattle Times about the virtual worlds where kids are spending so much of their time.