Finally–an engaging, safe, virtual enviro-world for kids

MiniMonos is a brand new virtual world [still in alpha stage] for kids to monkey around in.  With their own MiniMonos monkey avatar, they can choose a treehouse to live in, explore the beautiful island, chat with other monkeys, and even participate in the kids blog. Games include catching clouds to create wind energy, cleaning up the trash in the water, recycling into the right bin as stuff falls from a conveyor belt with much more still in development. Kids are encouraged to provide feedback in an effort to make it their world and take special care of it. It’s not flashy or fast-paced, but it’s more than lovable. My third grade son plays on the old laptop in my office and I can play along as another monkey character (Lucy) on my computer. Turns out this is a place he feels he can boss me around in and he really enjoys that we can just hang out and explore together.

I still can’t decide whether I love the kids/game aspect or the grown-ups section where I can find tasty recipes, learn about companies and organizations doing good things for the planet, and environmental issues. A recent entry “What do your kids really do on virtual worlds?” offered insight into how kids spend their time on MiniMonos and provided valuable information from a study about young people’s use of digital media, with advice on how to monitor online use. For now I’ll just say I love both the kids and grown-up sections equally, but for different reasons (this is the same answer I give when my son asks which of our two cats I love more).

The team behind MiniMonos really cares about making a positive impact on children, saying, “It’s important to us that our MiniMonos kids recognize how to look after the planet we live on and help others who are affected by climate change.” For every six-month Top Banana Gold membership “you and your child” gives a week’s worth of clean drinking water for a child in India. How wonderful is that?!

The MiniMonos community is also saving the life of a real live orangutan baby by adopting it from Borneo Orangutan Survival as soon as they’ve reached 50 Top Banana Gold memberships! He or she is an at-risk orphan whose rainforest has been burnt down to make room for palm oil tree plantations–the process devastating both for the environment and the orangutan population. Your children will not only have the opportunity to engage in discussion about deforestation, but will be kept up-to-date on the orangutan as he or she grows up!

The cool thing is that they put themselves out there for kids to test and be part of the developmental process. I hope you’ll check out MiniMonos with your child… and let me know what you think!

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