We usually don’t cover dolls (or toy cars or Monopoly or Winnie the Pooh) on this blog, but we cannot resist commenting on the phenomenon Matt Richtel and Brad Stone writes about in New York Times today. It is about the growing number of young girls using online sites to dress up virtual dolls, create new outfits and chat with friends. Communities like Cartoon Doll Emporium, Club Penguin, Cyworld, Habbo Hotel, Webkinz, WeeWorld and Stardoll (and Barbiegirl.com, currently in beta) have millions of users and make lot’s of money on advertising and subscription.
9 years old Presleigh Montemayor, interviewed in New York Times, says playing with online dolls beats playing with regular Barbies.
This provokes a number of feelings. On one hand it is interesting to see the twist and turns of Web 2.0. What part of your life will it not get in to (and make money from)? The market is growing rapidly, according to Forrester Research among others. Clickety Clack has a post on the fast growth of these virtual sites.
On the other hand this is about children, and children we want to protect from ads and offensive material that can be found on other parts of the Web. And to be honest, don’t we want them to be outside collecting bugs or playing football – at least for some of their free-time? Nicholas Deleon at CrunchGear writes a piece on this asking if kids shouldn’t be out playing or at least spend their time online doing the Wikipedia Shuffle?
Stardoll.com is actually Swedish. We know the CEO, he is an entrepreneur and a great father of two kids. He always has good answers to these questions, talking about the creativity it brings to children. He describes himself as someone selling paperdolls and being proud of it.
And as always when it comes to children, your should be there together with them. Don’t leave your kids alone in front of the computer and try to make rules for how and when to play online.
By Tina Magnergard Bjers and John Furrier