I went up to Rhode Island this past weekend to hang out with my little cousins. Hint: if you have to watch a 4 year-old, two 8 year-olds and a 13 year-old by yourself for the day, don’t take them to Dave and Busters.
Kyleigh (one of the 8 year olds), to my surprise, was already addicted to the computer. On Friday night until she went to bed and then again as soon as she woke up on Saturday morning, she was playing with her stuffed animals and at the same time was on some website called Webkinz.com. She showed me how each of these real stuffed animals come with a code that you register on their site, and they give you a virtual version of your pet online. The pet has a name and a home, and you must take care of it. It requires food and human interaction (virtual love) in order to survive. You spend virtual money on things like treats and grooming. And even cooler, she was inviting her friends’ virtual pets to come visit her pet’s virtual home to play games and chat.
So kids even that young are using a form of social networking. Pretty wild. It puts the toys I had back in the day to shame.
Speaking of toys, while I was up there my uncle who owns a safety gear online store, let me play with this. It’ll drop the strongest guy you know to the ground for 5 minutes. And just the sheer sound it makes is probably enough to convince anyone to leave you be.