Moshi Monsters is a virtual world for kids. They have about 50 million registered users worldwide! The site is geared towards children between 5 to 12 years old (however 5, 6 and 7 year olds will obviously require much more parental supervision!). Each child gets a monster pet and a room that can be furnished with virtual goods. This site is different to its rival, Club Penguin, in that there is a pin board where friends can leave messages and a news feed, but there are also games, quizes and virtual world activities. It’s a little like a starter social network! In fact, the company behind Moshi Monsters have admitted that they are trying to create ‘Facebook for kids’!
So is it safe? Well yes and no! They try to put parents at ease with a section explaining the site’s concept and safety measures but I found that section a bit vague and didn’t really reassure me. I spent a bit of time looking at the site myself and decided that (within certain boundaries) it was okay for my daughter (who just turned eight) to try out.
The one thing I would tell parents is that you must take the time at the beginning to explain to your children that they should ONLY accept friend requests from people they know and that messages that are rude or inappropriate can be reported! Within a week of my daughter being online, she got a friend request from someone we didn’t recognise so we blocked it!
One other important thing to mention is that the messages the kids send to each other are public to any other Moshi Monsters member so remind your child to never give away any public information in any message and ALWAYS use a nickname for your account, never your real name. As messages are public within the site, it also means that your child can read messages on other people’s pinboards and the language on these messages can be unsavoury, particularly if it’s an older child’s page!
The people behind Moshi Monsters are targeting their market well. There is a magazine, toys, books, tv shows and even an iPhone app (which is a waste of money to be honest as it’s just a Moshi Monster mouth that moves as you speak!).
Is your child on Moshi Monsters? What do you think of it?