Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Informed Bystanders

J once told me that she feels "different" from the other kids because they are so into their video gaming world and "all the stuff about it" that she does not understand. I asked her if she wanted to participate in it as in getting a Nintendo DS, Playstation or Wii and she was said "No. I don't find it interesting" pretty promptly. She is quite content to continue feeling different and being unable to relate to some of the things her generation finds most exciting. Thanks goodness for Hannah Montana but for her, J would have been a complete social misfit.

Apparently we are both living in the dark ages even as other parents are readying their kids for the digital world. J did come into a couple of Webkinz on her birthday - gifts from her friends. We went through the motions of signing her up on the site and such but she showed no interest in participating in the virtual world that apparently caters to the infotainment needs of kids age 6-10. Bob Tedeschi of the New York Times notes :

Webkinz World is a cross between an online gaming site, an educational site and the virtual world of Second Life, but with animals instead of people. Youngsters may also use the site for text chats with friends with whom they have shared their online identity.

Most of J's friends have hoards of Webkinz and there is always chatter about who has how many and what. I am often privy to these animated disussions when I wait with her for the school bus. Its interesting to watch the non-Webkinz kids listen from the sidelines without having any input of their own. They form the bridge between the connected consumer kids and hapless parents such as myself. In being the aware non-consumer, their role is probably just as important as that of the active participants of the Webkinz World.

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