Growing Up with Neopets: A Personal Case-Study
Neopets.com is a popular virtual pet site attracting roughly 44 million players worldwide. As more and more children spend time on sites like Neopets.com, there is debate over whether they are being victimized or empowered by their exposure to cultural products and discourses online. The existing literature mostly consists of observations and interpretations that are made by researchers from an adult outsider's perspective. In this study, I discuss how, in my nine years of membership on Neopets.com, I have developed an awareness of myself in relation to a larger society, and also gained important skills that proved useful to me later in life. I conclude that a virtual world can enable a young person to try on active roles in addition to passive ones in a modern commercial society.
Neopets; children; teens; COPPA; virtual world; commercial; social identity
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The full website for the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research can be found at: http://jvwresearch.org