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Finances & Money

Webkinz: Waste of Money or Learning Opportunity?

Last week in our 4th grade sunday school class, the kids mentioned something called Webkinz. They were crazy about these things, but since we had a lesson plan to stick to, we didn’t get to ask them more about these toys.

I decided to do my own research into this craze and learned the following:

* Webkinz are stuffed animals you can buy online or at stores. They run about $10-15 each, but prices are expected to rise soon. They’re a mixture of Beanie Babies and Tamagotchis (virtual pets)

* The most important thing about these toys is the code they give you with the toy that allows you to activate an online version of the “pet”. Otherwise, it’s just a regular stuffed animal

* When you activate the pet online, you get $2000 virtual dollars (KinzCash) to buy your pet food, toys, and other items. These items can be rather pricey. A fancy bed can run you about $1750 in KinzCash! Also, you can’t buy KinzCash with real cash (or it conveniently leaves that out of the FAQs if you can)

* You can earn more cash by playing games online, getting a job, or taking surveys. However, per Webkinz FAQ, these games are not gambling because “Webkinz members can not lose KinzCash playing any of our games. There are no wagers involved at all.”

* The pets need food or go hungry, and if they go hungry for too long, they get sick and need medicine, which all costs KinzCash. However, the pets never die, they just stay sick.

Now that you know what these cute little pets cost, do and require for care, let’s assess what they teach our children:

Educational Value of Webkinz

Basically, the only way these toys, or any toy,, can really teach a child is if the parents are actively involved in that education. If you just buy your kid the toy and give them free reign over the computer, then they’ll probably proceed in the following steps:

1. Immediately go to the “W Store” to buy food for their new pet
2. See all the other cool things they can buy and load up on cute toys, beds, and and fashion accessories
3. Realize they need more cash and go play games to earn it
4. Buy only the minimum amount of food for the pet because they want all the other cool things
5. Get so wrapped up in playing the games, they neglect their pet
6. Their pet gets sick and isn’t fun to play with anymore
7. The kid decides they would rather have a different pet and the cycle continues until the child is tired of the whole thing entirely

Basically, that’s how I play with toys, and everyone’s like me, right? Anyway, regardless of the deviation in the pattern above, your kid is going to need guidance when playing with their toys if you expect them to gain the right values and knowledge.

You’ll need to guide your child’s learning in the following areas:
1. Spending vs Saving (Value of Money)do they really need all that junk to keep their pet happy? Maybe they should save up their earnings for something the pet could really use?
2. Appropriate online behavior, courtesy, privacy, safety and securityWebkinz offers online chats and video capability. Supposedly no one can see your videos, but they are being stored SOMEWHERE for SOMEONE to be able to access at any time
3. Responsibility and AccountabilityYou can’t just leave your pet while you go off and play games. You need to feed and walk that thing!
4. Time ManagementKids can easily spend hours and hours online with their pets, as well as chatting and playing games. They need to learn how to split their fun time with school and household work. They also need to spend time with REAL PEOPLE!
5. Costs vs RewardsYou can offer rewards for doing housework, getting good grades, etc. that go towards “online time”. You’re the parent and should control when they’re online versus helping you around the house

If you’re a hands-off parent, then please avoid this toy. Actually, I advise you to be more involved with your children, regardless of age. Our kids learn best through actions, not words, so please show them how to learn, how to deal with money, how to be safe, and responsible and accountable. Just buying kids things without teaching them how to value it is a worthless investment.

Be hands-on with your kids. Be involved. Be friends, but be leaders. Stand your ground because YOU’RE the boss.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • I agree with Silver.

    WebkinzLover, you are a disrespectful brat.
    Your parants, or adults, bought you those Webkinz and you have the nerve to say Adults all suck becasue you think we all hate fun.

    You are so wrong, whats your problem anyway?
    I`m a 23 year old mother and I buy my daughter Webkinz all the time because she earns them and then she gives me a big hug and tells me she loves me but you on the other hand, are probley just a spoiled little loser.

  • Webkinzlover, why would you even say adults want to “ruin” fun?

    Thats mean, My dad buys me Webkinz because he wants me to have fun.

  • Bunnie, Silver, Singolo and Luna: I recognize you’re all the same person (I can see IPs of commenters). Why does this article tend to get all the people with multiple personalities?

  • I stumbled upon this conversation by mistake, as I looked for possibility of washing my god-daughters 14th Webkin. The poor duck got badly stained last night during our sleepover (Damn white fabric and red koolaid; anyhow.) After reading I needed to comment.

    – First I agree these are simply just toys if you are not being a good parent and spending time with your children but if you are spending time with your children and using them as a means of education as well as fun they are a perfect companion to any under 10 year old child.

    -Kailey (6; kindergarten) & Hunter (5; Preschool) my godchildren are obsessed with these small stuffed animals and there online world. They can only play up to an hour during the weekdays and only if they have done there chores and homework. There time limit starts at 30 minuets and increases on how well the day events move and if they are behaving.

    During there time either there mother or father are near by watching. They must feed there pets and bath there pets. If they plan to purchase items, all purchases are made with a parent there so they can learn how it will effect there bank and often comes with them doing there own math on a scrap piece of paper, and often end up in saving the points for a bigger item. They have gardens that they tend to every other day. And many of the games they have are even educational, Kailey favorite is the Super Model game, which is about matching clothes but she can only play that after she plays the games dealing with counting and spelling. Hunter enjoys Cashcow; matching the colors and go Fish; matching numbers. Not all games as I said are educational but some are. Both children’s schools use them as educational helpers during there computer time and Kailey is already learning how to type very well for her age. They don’t play there webkinz on the weekends instead they do family activities that take them outdoors. Both children really like Quizy corner which is the most educational game on the site and perfect for adults to play with there children or even as a family.

    – As for the toys themselves, they of course go through periods of which one is there favorite but they enjoy them all and know each one of there names. They may only sleep with one each night and have a special place (a bookshelf case) where each must keep there webkinz when there not playing with its.

    – Neopets vs. Webkinz. A lot of people have brought up Neopets, of which I have a younger brother who plays I have found that Webkinz is much more age appropriate and much more secure with chating features. The one thing I hate about Neopets is that any age range of child can have contact with an adult pretending to be younger while on webkins, even if they are speaking to an adult the parent has the control on turning off chat all together. In addition that the pets on Webkinz are much more interactive; while they become sick it doesn’t take them many points to get them better indeed once a week Kailey and Hunter must take each pet to the doctor on the site for a check up.

    All and all these are great toys for my god children and while most likely a fad I will continue to buy them when they want them; which is on birthdays and holidays. So how do they have so many? They use there own allowance to buy them of course. We have used Ebay (a way to get some cheep) but even better buying the pet of the month which is always on sale during its appropriate month.

    The negative. I agree someone has mentioned that the costumer service is atrocious and I agree it is the HUGEST problem with the Ganz/ Webkin line! But the fact that my god children are learning responsibility, having fun learning to use math and spelling skills, and even art, health, and science facts is fabulous. The plushies while simply only glorified beanie babies are teaching them to care for there own things and that is a good thing as well.

    Ask your self which one is the better situation? Make a child happy spend 13 dollars and give them some of your time, and even teach them a few things or sit them infront of the TV and ignore them?

  • I came to this sight by mistake. Thinking it might help me decide to get another webkinz or not so I could play for another year. But I’ll defineitly get another one now. Also Webkinzlover your a spoiled little brat.

  • Yeah… um… I’m in fourth grade, and I have a webkinz turtle. There is lots of education, for one thing. Quizzy’s corner, games, its fun and its like the safest fun game on the web. I don’t agree with this site.
    My mom doesnt set a time that I have to get off, but I still do my homework, and my other reponsibility’s. Not all kiddies are crazty about them.
    When you say bad things about buying things, I’d love for you to know that bed isnt really bad priced, if you actually played the games you would understand you get a lot of kinzcash.
    Next, the kinzchat plus is the one where you can type your own messages, and they wont let you send any bad words. Okay, and you have to send a letter to parents email to ask if they can play that, perfectly safe.
    You seriously are over pretected. It’s all up to the kiddie and the parents. What is a better site then webkinz? Certainly not all of those bad websites. I cant think of anything better. And, I’m making the homor role and I still play these games.
    Think next time berfore you post something up. I understand if your worried, but you need to say to yourself:
    ”Is therre anything better then webkinz for a kid?”
    Its really fun, and if you havent tried playing it and your only listening to what others say, your judging something you’ve never played. That’s the worst thing you can do. I bealive n’ god, and I love him. ANd everyone keeps saying its devilish, yes, someone seriously said that though I forget where. IT IS SO NOT!

  • I have a webkinz and they r like so so awesome! I have no problem getting
    on this website so if u do i have no idea why. The only bummer is that they
    die after a year but a nice way of saying that is that they expire. Hey clever
    dude, can you pay money to keep your webkinz going without buying another webkinz?

  • I’m only 10 years and even I know that was a very disrespectful thing of webkinz lover to say! Lisa January is right she is a brat!