I see the BBC have announced this morning that they will be launching an online virtual world – CBBC World in which children can inhabit and interact.
Details are sketchy yet but this sounds very much like Second Life to me but for kids (i.e. moderated and without the financial angle). It is aimed at 7-12 year olds who will be able to:
build an online presence, known as an avatar, then create and share content… to move around a safe, secure world where they can not only interact with familiar characters but have an opportunity to make that world a more fascinating place with their own imaginations
This sounds like a fantastic idea to me. My 3 year old has been online since he was 18 months old. He has his own computer with a broadband connection and his favourite site is PlayhouseDisney because of all the Flash based games there where he can interact with all his cartoon buddies.
I like that site in particular for him because of its lack of ads. I presume the CBBC World site won’t have ads either as ads go against the grain of the BBC’s ethos.
Former BBC’r Ben Metcalfe has a good analysis of this announcement where he discusses, reassuringly, the likely child safety which will be built into the site.