Social network games, multiplayer video games and virtual worlds are popular among teens and tweens because they not only entertain, but also allow social interaction. Learn more about what social games your kids are playing and find out how to make sure they stay safe online.
Social network games are online games that are played through social networks and usually feature some sort of multiplayer gameplay or community interaction. Many of these games use virtual currency, which can be purchased with real-world money or earned during the game. The currency is used to purchase upgrades and items.
Mafia Wars and FarmVille are social network games that have been extremely popular on Facebook in the past couple years, but recently CityVille has become even more well-known. Released by Zynga in December 2010, CityVille had over 100,000 players on its launch date and within its first 50 days live, CityVille grew to 61 million active users. In September 2011, the game was also released on Google+.
Popular among teens and adults alike, the game allows users to become the mayor over a virtual city and oversee the city’s development. Players can buy citycash or earn coins within the game by reaching higher levels. The currency is used to purchase special items. Players can visit their neighbors’ cities, send other players gifts and help others reach their goals.
In August 2011, the Sims series of video games took their platform to Facebook in the form of The Sims Social. In this game, the user creates a customizable character, picking the name, gender, personality, skin color, clothing, hairstyle and color, facial features and more. Your character then interacts with those characters of your Facebook friends. Sims can develop skills, buy traits, receive/give gifts, develop relationships and much more. As of September 2011, The Sims Social surpassed FarmVille and is the second most popular Facebook game with CityVille being the most popular.
Consider these tips for Facebook parents >>
World of Warcraft
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) are a type of role-playing video game that allows for many players to interact with one another within the virtual world of the game. With 10.3 million subscribers as of November 2011, World of Warcraft (WoW) is currently the world’s most-subscribed MMORPG.
Players create a character, develop skills, make an alliance with other players, and go on quests to achieve strategic goals. Though originally very popular among males, more and more females are WoW players in recent years. After the original game was released, different optional expansions have become available. Most recently, World of Warcraft: Cataclsym was released in December 2010.
Sweety High is a whole new kind of social gaming platform. The site is aimed toward girls from 8 to 16 years old. Veronica Zelle is the co-founder of Sweety High and has been behind some of the major music videos for Madonna, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears.
The site encourages users to create, share and gift currency to one another’s creative expressions (videos, photos, drawings and writings). Through quests and achievements that earn virtual currency and goods, girls can win a variety of exclusive real world prizes and one-of-a-kind opportunities. Users harvest and leverage “Hearts” to unlock exclusive content and contests as they progress upward through 40 different levels. Sweety High users can also watch original web series like “Sweet Beat TV” and “Food Star” that are set to launch within the site.
Six times a year, Sweety High and the community throw a “Be A Star” contest to select the most outstanding content creators on the site. The winners of “Be A Star” are given opportunities to meet their heroes and be produced on a professional level in acting, dancing, singing, fashion design, creative writing and journalism.
Social games and internet safety
Before you let your child participate in social gaming platforms, virtual worlds or social networking sites, familiarize yourself with the parental controls. Make sure their user profiles are only visible to their friends and find out more about how the content is moderated. Try out games for yourself to ensure these online platforms are really something that you want your tweens and teens participating in.