Social Networks for Kids are Growing

The New York Times profiles “interactive play sites,” in which kids play with their friends online, exploring virtual worlds, and dressing up virtual dolls:

“Millions of children and adolescents are spending hours on these sites, which offer virtual versions of traditional play activities and cute animated worlds that encourage self-expression and safe communication. They are, in effect, like Facebook or MySpace with training wheels, aimed at an audience that may be getting its first exposure to the Web.”

Some of the popular sites are: Cartoon Doll Emporium, Club Penguin, Cyworld, Habbo Hotel, Webkinz, WeeWorld, Stardoll, and BarbieGirls. Can’t say I have looked at any of them, although some people are taking them very seriously:

“In recent months, with the traffic for these sites growing into the tens of millions of visitors, the entrepreneurs behind them have started to refine their business models.”