Now that my kids are older, Alfie and I are beginning to allow them more freedom to play on online sites for kids. I do have to approve the site, of course, but once I give the okay, I no longer sit with them while they're online; they're free to play on the site for the allotted screen time they're given for the day. It gives me more freedom as a parent, but the unfortunate consequence is that I'm less informed about what they're doing on that site. For a control freak like me, it can be hard to let go.
Fortunately, a few children's sites are actually parent friendly as well as kid friendly -- that is, they give parents a greater degree of control over what and how much their kids are doing online than just setting an egg timer in front of the monitor! One such site is WiggleTime.com, the first interactive online venture of the popular Australian kids' show, The Wiggles. I recently reviewed the site with 3Po and Jammy; here's what I thought:
WiggleTime.com is The Wiggles' new online interactive world, filled with games and activites featuring Anthony, Jeff, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Captain Feathersword and other beloved characters. Young Wiggles fans and their parents can register for and enjoy WiggleTime.com for free, but in order to fully access the site with all its benefits (i.e. all games, videos and activites, access to parental tools, forums, pre-sale notifications to Wiggles concerts), you will have to upgrade to a premium subscription account. Each Wiggle Time subscription account ($5.95 per month, or $60 if you purchase an annual subscription) allows up to 4 children to be added.
Here is what the makers of WiggleTime.com have to say about the site:
WiggleTime.com is designed to be a virtual world that provides young children with a safe online environment to learn and play. It creates the opportunity for today’s parent to introduce their child to the Internet without the risk of them communicating with strangers and is also completely free of advertisements.
Young Wiggles fans will love this site: they can visit all of the Wiggles' favorite hangouts, like Wigglehouse, Dorothy’s House, Wag’s Kennel, Captain Feathersword’s SS Feathersword, or Henry’s Underwater World. The games are fun and age-appropriate for preschoolers, and the site provides little incentives to keep them coming back for more, like the ability to earn virtual toys and increasingly challenging game levels. My kids' favorite feature was definitely the video section, where they get to watch video clips, so they never have to wait to get their Wiggles fix.
The site is also parent friendly, with a separate parent log-on for managing kids' accounts. I like the "Take a Break" feature, which encourages kids to get up after 20 minutes of online play and do some wiggling -- real, not virtual. What a great idea! And as I mentioned at the top of this post, I love their Wiggle Time Child Reports, which are emailed monthly to subscribers. The report lists each game your child has played and the total time he/she spent playing it that month. They even tell you what kinds of skills (cognitive, physical, and socioemotional) that game helps develop, so you can rest assured your child is doing more than just entertaining herself.
The site seems to take an eternity to load! They seem to have anticipated this, because while you are waiting you are supposed to be able to click on the colored lines that show up on the screen, which makes cute little notes appear. It's more entertaining than watching those stupid hourglasses or progress bars, but I'd rather have the engineers devote more time to speeding up the site and decreasing the number of times I see that "loading" screen (which is a lot!). Also, having to pay a subscription fee sucks, especially since there are so many free sites around.
The Bottom Line
WiggleTime.com is a site that kids and parents will feel good about logging on to. It's a must for any Wiggles fans, and I'm sure the really serious Wiggles fans will be happy to pay the subscription fee.
Three lucky Bonggamom Finds readers will win a free one-month subscription to WiggleTime.com.
Leave a comment on this post and tell me your favorite Wiggles character.
(note: you can only do each extra entry once; please leave a separate comment for each extra entry):
1) Become a fan of Bonggamom Finds on Facebook (leave a comment with your FB id).
2) Tweet this giveaway (leave a comment with a link to your tweet). Here is a sample tweet you can copy and paste:
Win a month's subscription to WiggleTime.com from @bonggafinds: http://tinyurl.com/yajal5c
Maximum of 3 entries per person. This giveaway ends at midnight PST on January 31, 2010; I will draw 3 winners at random on Feb. 1 and post their names as soon as the winners confirm acceptance. For additional giveaway rules, click here. Good luck!
I received a media access to the premium WiggleTime.com features in order to review the site, but no monetary compensation. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.