As I write this post (March 2010), my kids are five and seven years old, and have Webkinz accounts. Yesterday they were introduced, by a seven year old friend, to www.moshimonsters.com
It's free to sign up, and it seemed kid friendly enough, so I helped my kids each adopt a monster and create a profile. I also set up a profile for myself, and while I haven't had much of a chance to browse through the site, I thought I'd share the two internet lessons my kids have already encountered.
1) Personal information: Your new monster welcomes you, with a few questions. I had no problem with the country and gender questions, but when the cute, endearing creature on the screen asked for a birthday, this prompted our first internet safety lesson. NEVER give out personal information. Even though the monster asks for month and day only, and not year, it's still unacceptable in my opinion. Unfortunately you can't continue unless you enter something, so we made up random dates.
2) Unscripted messaging and stranger friending: My daughter's seven year old classmate, who showed us the site, turned to me at one point to ask for help spelling a word. I looked at her screen and saw that she was typing a message to someone on her friends list. When I asked her who her friends were, she said they were people she didn't know in person, and told me what countries they were from.
Really? You're SEVEN, typing freely, to people whose identities you know nothing about?
This prompted my immediate further involvement: I created my own account, adopted my own monster, and friend requested my two kids (in my opinion, the best way to learn and protect is to participate). As I am a silver-lining kind of person, I am going to use this as an opportunity to teach my kids more about internet safety. Also, in the defense of Moshi Monsters, (because I try and be fair) their forum is moderated.
Still, this is a site, in my opinion, that requires direct supervision.