Nearly every preteen in our Hudson Valley circle of friends and acquaintances has an account online with Club Penguin. I've heard them making plans to meet online at set times to give concerts (their virtual penguin characters can play instruments) and to play games like extreme sledding. My kid (who is normally no mouse potato) would play in the virtual Penguin world for hours if I didn’t set limits. (By the way, her laptop is secured in a way that prevents her from wandering off to explore other areas on the Internet – and I always am nearby when she is online!)
My favorite thing about Club Penguin is that my daughter looks forward to reading each online edition of the Penguin Times newspaper. When kids are reading the newspaper, they are unable to interact with each other or play games at the same time, so they really are focusing on what they’re reading. (They can see when other kids -- a.k.a. virtual penguins -- are reading the paper at the same time they are.) I see it as a great training tool to get preteens into the habit of reading a “real” newspaper on a regular basis.
So for my household, hearing that CP has just been purchased by the Disney company is big news. I like Club Penguin because (right now) it’s not very commercial (aside from the monthly membership fee.) It will be interesting to see how that plays out under Disney.