I am fed up to the back teeth of my ds saying "can I have a gold membership for x, or a club penguin card, or a a VIP membership for y site, without it I can't have x or y feature or play zyz game...."
The answer is always a resounding "no." just before anyone says I should just say no, .
But IBU to think that these websites shouldn't lure children in with their fab free games and then encourage them to upgrade for even better features?
YABU - they have to make money somehow to cover the cost of it. Other sites (CBBC etc) have free games. We have one membership each, soon to be changed at ds' request. Also, birthdays and Christmas they have asked for giftcard membership if they like.
TBH I'd rather they played on a well moderated site like Club Penguin than just randomly find stuff. At least this way I can set parental controls.
They are a business, it's no different to advertising on TV. I do think the Club Penguin makers played a very good game though, linking cards with the website and making our children bug us to buy a fluffy bit of crap just for the code on a tiny bit of plastic that comes with it.
My Mum fell for it hook line and sinker, she bought ds2 his Club Penguin Membership, I certainly wouldn't have done.
My issue is not with the fact the memberships exist, it is that they are marketed directly to the children.
There are plenty of people who object to the advertising of toys/junk food on children's television and think it should be on adult tv only, I don't see why this is any different.
Given that the parent has to authorise the account, the site could easily market to the parent through email and the parent could then decide, instead of telling children that they could chat to their friends/play different games for only £9.99 a month)
We spend all our adult life as consumers and its its not taught in school ( shame on us)- use it to teach about advertising and choice swe make with our money. Its hardly in the same category as McDonalds tbh.
In terms of business models for kids, particularly online, they have to make money somehow, unless they're all going to be publicly funded.
Either they've got in-game advertising, subscription models or freemium model (like Moshi Monsters where it's free to sign up but costs extra for additional features).
Under any scenario you're either going to have children pestering for money to play or being exposed to advertising. Equally under any scenario, children are going to be 'lured' in somehow, most likely through word of mouth in the playground. Personally, I don't see the freemium model as being any more pernicious than any other. At least it gives the kid a chance to play the game to see if they like it before they spend money (unlike subscription sites) and they're not being exposed to in-game advertising (unlike ad driven sites).
It's a children's website. I don't think it's unreasonable that it's marketed at children. As the others have said, these companies have to make money somehow and generally have a fair amount of free (or ad-supported) content too.
club penguin membership is only £3.95 a month if you buy it on a month to month basis. It is £19.95 for 6 months and £37.95 for 1 year. The kids got the 6 month membership for their birthdays (oct and nov)