Poptropica is an interactive, role-playing game, in which players can create their own avatars (a custom designed character). Children can wander around worlds, meet and chat with other players and solve problems. The game is free to use. However, players can purchase credits to customize their avatars. The game requires no downloading as it is entirely on-line.
Teaching Kids that Reading is Fun
Poptropica is an appropriate online game for children that range from 6-14 years old. Reading is essential for the player to interact with the game and other characters. The characters talk in cartoon bubbles and most children will enjoy reading the dialogue. The majority of the reading is simple but comprehension is required to complete the tasks in the game. This reading serves as a way to reinforce sight words and high frequency vocabulary and improve comprehension.
Problem Solving Skills for Children
There are portions of the game that require the children follow directions, collect items, and complete tasks in order to defeat a challenge (like a “big boss” or “bad guy). Children find this exciting and love playing the part of a detective or problem solver in order to move to the next level in the game. Often these challenges will require some time to complete. Luckily, children can save their progress and use their file on any computer that has internet access, so they can step away from the computer at any time. This feature allows parents to control the computer time.
Is Poptropica Safe for Children?
The violence is minimal. There are ninja avatar costumes. Some of the small games that the players can challenge each other to contain slight violence (like paint ball). Pop-up, pop-under, and banner ads are nonexistent but as the child enters certain areas they are exposed to commercials. For example, children can enter a movie theater, while in the theater they will see movie trailers.
Players can chat with other players but the chat is controlled by providing the dialogue which the children can pick from. As a player approaches another player a cartoon bubble appears and the player can chose to ask the other character to play a mini-game. The chat is not free type so there is no threat of a child being exposed to inappropriate conversations.
Primary school children (K-3) will find poptropica.com entertaining and parents will like that it helps reinforce reading skills without a classroom feel. Poptropica.com limits commercial exposure and the dialogue, keeping inappropriate ads and discussions away from the game.