Keeping the kids entertained
Summer holidays. Two words to strike fear into the heart of any parent, two words which conjure up images of hot car journeys, tantrums over ice-creams, mess everywhere and endless refrains of "Mummy, I'm bored". Thankfully, there is a solution. After the last drop of fun has been squeezed out of the Disney DVDs; after every toy has been played with and broken; on those rainy days when it seems like there's nothing left to occupy the kids- simply send them online. The internet offers a multitude of sites providing safe, fun games with which to entertain them, here we list a few of the best.
Neopets: The premise of Neopets is simple: adopt up to four pets, look after them and play with them in the online world of 'Neopia'. In reality the game is absorbing and fun enough to keep the kids happy for hours. Users can buy toys, food, clothes and other adornments for their pets using online money called 'Neopoints'. These Neopoints are earned by taking part in contests, trading with other users, playing games or investing in the game's stock market.
PlaySEGA: For sheer choice and variety of free online gaming options few websites can beat PlaySega. To register your child simply fill in an online form, and they'll then have access to a variety of different game types ranging from sport to arcade, puzzle to quiz. The beauty of PlaySega lies in the relative simplicity of the games, meaning it's suited for any age group; and in the sheer variety of options. You can sign up to the free online games at playsega.com.
Horseland: There is a clear clue as to content in the title of this website. On the Horseland website kids simply create an avatar (an in-game representation of themselves) and send that avatar out to buy and train horses and dogs. The game advertises itself as being suitable for ages 10-22 and there is a far simpler version of the game for younger children, meaning it's got an exceptionally broad age appeal and will be suitable for anyone. Be aware though that online chat with other players is a huge part of the game, so if you're not happy about that it might be one to avoid.
Club Penguin: One of the strangest online games out there is the Disney owned website 'Club Penguin'. Players use a cartoon penguin as an avatar and then proceed to waddle around, chat, play mini-games and take part in activities with one another; all in an online, snow-covered virtual world. The game is designed for children between the ages of 6 and 14 years old, and because of this one of the biggest focuses of the developers has been on child safety. There several features included in the game which demonstrate this concern. One of the best is the "Ultimate Safe Chat" mode, which includes filtering that prevents swearing and the revelation of personal information. There are also moderators who police the game.