Monday, November 5, 2012

Animal Jam Game Review: Addiction for Kids


This is my parent review of Animal Jam.

What is Animal Jam and How We Were Sucked Into It

We subscribed to National Geographic for Kids magazine to raise funds to build our school playground.  In it were advertisements for "Animal Jam," an online game with multiple stranger players, simple games like tic tac toe with rewards of jewellery, hats, clothing for your avatar, an animal.  Along the way your child is supposed to learn facts.  Now, this may be the true intention, but upon observing my child play, she did not learn much if anything except materialism.  She became obsessed with acquiring and possessing, and trading items with other players.

The child explores around the Animal Jam world taking part in games with players from all over the world.  Currently Animal Jam boasts SIX MILLION players, and counting.  I watched a YouTube presentation by one of the companies profiting from this phenomenon--Clark Stacey, CEO of Smart Bomb Interactive, called "Animal Jam: Why Chocolate Covered Broccoli Sucks But Zucchini Bread Doesn't."  In it, he explained the success of Animal Jam.  He boasted that the average Animal Jam user spends 75 minutes per session, saying this was evidence that his website was doing something right.

Is Animal Jam Safe for My Kids?

Yes, it was doing something "right."  Animal Jam is an MMORPG: a "massively multiplayer online role playing game."  Sure, the kids are playing with cute animal avatars instead of with overmuscular armoured men and women typical of other role playing games, but it is an MMORPG nonetheless.

The reason why Animal Jam is successful is twofold.  One, parents consider it safe.  Two, it is highly addictive.

When my kids first asked to play Animal Jam, I researched whether Animal Jam was safe.  I do not want my child interacting with sweaty naked fat old men masquerading as little innocent kids.  Parents consider it safe because it is a National Geographic creation and parents can monitor players' activities through the parent dashboard.  There are moderators.

I was leery of letting our kids play any video games as I consider them a waste of time when they could be spending their hours reading, doing creative activities, or physical activities instead.  While I was not at home, they had their first Animal Jam session and then they were hooked.

Animal Jam is Virtual Cocaine for the Under 10 Crowd

What makes Animal Jam "unsafe" is that is is addictive.  Clearly, MMORPGs are addictive.  A study of 100 university students showed disturbing data.  I love this study so much, I am going to quote big chunks from this article, "Are MMORPGs 'addictive?'" written by Dave Munger in June 2008, since I'm afraid the link will no longer work in the future:


They played the games on their own time, in a campus “game laboratory” (or in an arcade for the arcade group). The only requirement was that they play the game for at least an hour a week. The arcade group could play any of the games in the arcade; one group played Gauntlet: Dark Legacy on a PlayStation 2; one group played Diablo II on a computer, and the final group played the MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot. So did the type of game had any impact on how much the games were played? You bet it did — here are the results:
i-f62d02071afd90b666efb6c7fdf30175-smyth1.gif
The MMORPG group spent significantly more time playing Dark Age of Camelot in the final week of play than any of the other groups spent playing their games — an average of 14.4 hours! Remember, these groups were randomly assigned, and there was no difference in game-playing time among groups at the start of the study. But even if the students spent more time with the MMORPG, that doesn’t mean they’re addicted to it. Were other aspects of their lives affected by this increase in game-playing? Yes, they were. Take a look at this graph:
i-f1006e3a453f8dfa2e5f9ff2cffee925-smyth2.gif
Sleep quality was significantly worse in the MMORPG group than the other groups, and the participants said the game interfered with their academics (although their actual academic performance didn’t suffer compared to the other groups). Yet the MMORPG group was significantly more likely than the other groups to say they planned to continue playing the game after the study was complete.
So is this behavior addictive? Smyth doesn’t offer an assessment, but the fact that the MMORPG appears to be negatively impacting several areas of these students’ lives — and that they continue to play on despite this — suggest it might be. 

Ironically, this article is available on Science Blog, a website in partnership with National Geographic!  The dangers of MMORPGs have not been explored extensively as much attention has been focussed on the dangers of console or computer games.  This article, "The Reality of MMORPG Addiction" noted some tragic outcomes of this real addiction.  I am not suggesting that Animal Jam play will lead to suicide, but this is here to show the dangers of MMORPG addiction.  I also wonder whether I am priming my developing kids' brains for serious adult addictive behaviours later by allowing them to play this addictive game at such a young age.


...as MMORPGs continue to become more popular, the worry of games consuming a person’s life to the point that it can be classified as an addiction grows. There have already been several reports of people not only losing their jobs and neglecting their families, but even suffering serious health consequences due to excessive gaming habits.

The media aren’t short on horror stories about online game addictions: According to the BBC, a Korean man collapsed and died after playing Starcraft for more than 50 hours, stopping only for short periods of sleep and bathroom breaks. A 13-year-old boy committed suicide by jumping off a building to honor the heroes in an online game. A 3-month old baby starved to death, after her parents left the house to visit an Internet cafĂ© and nurture their virtual child.

Addiction to online games, and especially addiction to MMORPGs, is no longer a joke, but a verifiable condition that has left a trail of bodies in its wake.

Update, April 14, 2013:  While responding to a commenter below, I researched whether computer time itself was problematic for young children.  I came across this article from the Huffington Post:


Roughly 1 in 10 children who play video games are at risk of becoming pathologically addicted to them, found a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.
That means for every classroom of 30 kids, three of them could develop a hardcore digital addiction that boosts the risk of depression, social phobia and poor school performance, the study found.
Over a two-year span, researchers from the U.S., Hong Kong and Singapore studied the video game habits of 3,000 Singaporean children from grades 3, 4, 7 and 8.
Kids who averaged 31 or more hours of gameplay a week were classified as pathological or "obsessive" gamers and were determined more likely to develop serious mental health issues.
Inclined to believe video game addiction is just a passing phase? WebMD reports that 84 percent of students who were considered addicts when the study began were still addicted two years later.
Still, such findings are preliminary. U.S. News reports:
Although pathological video gaming appears to share a number of characteristics with other addictive behaviors, such as pathological gambling, the researchers noted that "pathological gaming" is not yet an established psychological disorder.



Addiction Behaviours

In my household, I noted some interesting addictive behaviours particularly in my eight year old.  Yes, eight years old.  The target, according the aforementioned YouTube presentation, is the under 10 crowd.  A crowd with limited reasoning abilities, and, I daresay, little control over their impulses.

She began rising from her upstairs bed after my husband and I went downstairs (bedtime is 8:30 pm), to search for our tablet Playbooks in our bedroom to play Animal Jam into the night.  Then once we discovered this and locked the tablets when not in use, she started waking up before dawn to play Animal Jam on our desktop computer.  She had a pact with her older sister to wake each other up to play at night.  In the morning, I would find the lid closed when we had left it open.  So we started locking the desktop computer at night.

Since Animal Jam came into our lives, my youngest asks every day to play.  At first I would only allow her to play on weekends, after her homework was done.  My most recent attempt to control her time on the game involved an exchange of 1:1 for piano practice or 2:1 for reading, that is 2 hours of reading for one hour of Animal Jam.  This has worked in cutting down her time substantially.

I discovered that my kids will lie to cover up their clandestine Animal Jam play.  They will play Animal Jam to the exclusion of all other activities including eating.  They prefer it to watching a movie, going for a bicycle ride, going to Science World... They will arrange to meet up with their real life friends on Animal Jam after school.  They will spend hours discussing the items they covet, and how to obtain coveted items.

What Educational Aspect?

Since Animal Jam came into our lives, their creative activity has dropped.  They used to enjoy reading and drawing, but now every waking moment is dedicated to thinking about their next Animal Jam fix.  Well, at least this is true of my youngest.  My eldest still prefers reading to Animal Jam, but then again, she has moved out of the target age group recently.

Childhood is such a short time.  I hate to see it wasted for something of very limited and dubious educational value.  I've watched my kids play for extended periods of time, and they do not choose to view the educational material as they don't need to.  It is not part of the game--you need to click on an icon to read educational facts.  They'd rather be earning "gems" by playing games.  Clark Stacey, the presenter on YouTube, gave this advice to other developers at the Casual Connect convention in Seattle: "The key to our recipe is... don't try to educate kids through game play."  He claims to spark their curiosity, but I didn't see any evidence of that, personally.

Animal Jam School of Hard Knocks: A Place to Learn Where to Lie, Cheat, and Steal

Although I have limited their time to no more than one hour a day, it is never enough.

Parents, save yourself while you can and don't let them play Animal Jam in the first place.  You have been warned.  You'll get an amazing babysitter that is "safe" but you will pay a price.  The most troubling aspect is the dishonesty of my children, lying to me to get their fix.  I feel that I've failed as a parent since their morality is my biggest concern, bigger than academic achievement.

The game corrupts them to become materialistic.  In our TV free household, this our main source of corruption.  The kids have been asking me regularly to become "members" to get special items.  So I have to spend real dollars on membership to get these fake prizes.  No thank you.  We've fallen deep enough into the pit.

The worst aspect is that this game centres on acquiring rare items.  What happens is that savvy kids trick other naive kids into lopsided trades to get rare items.  A great life lesson, right?  I watched as another player followed my child's avatar around and asked SIX TIMES to trade for an item she had, offering a crappy item in return.  This went on for a very long time, until my daughter escaped to another room, and she ran when she got there to avoid the other player.

Apparently, Animal Jam is quite profitable.  According to the YouTube video presenter, they are currently beating their projections--"lifetime value" of each subscriber is $48, retention of each of these children is "more than six months", with play sessions of 75 minutes *on average*!  One weekend, I allowed my kids to play without limitation on time, and they certainly proved to me that if I do not limit them, they will play all day long.

And so, after discovering the link between MMORPGs and addiction, this is the end of Animal Jam for this family.  I will still offer a video game, not sure what I can replace cocaine with, but I will have to find something less addictive to wean them off.  I do not appreciate National Geographic marketing this abomination targeting the under 10 crowd.  Something is morally repulsive about that.  I have yet to receive any requests for "further exploration" on animal or conservation topics from my kids' curiosity piqued by this game.

I think I'll skip the playground fundraising magazine subscriptions next time.

(And apologies to you if you are a sweaty fat naked old man.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, being a sweaty fat naked old man.)

And in conclusion... a real life example of the Animal Jam School of Hard Knocks

December 21, 2012 Update:  My daughter is home from school with a fever and she relayed the following sad tale to me.  She shared her Animal Jam password with another player who she trusted and that player stole her pink heart necklace, which is an item which is very difficult to obtain.  She had traded her Freedom Hat for it, which was also a coveted item.  This was a hard lesson for her, about trust being violated, and about thieves and dishonesty.  I also took this opportunity to teach her to never give her password away.  Unfortunately, I also told her not to trust strangers.

I have written to the Animal Jam staff and I will post their response here.  May I again express my disgust for this "game"?  I have already limited to her playing to maybe once a week for short time periods, but she is still asking to play on a regular basis.  She went into a frenzy when she found out her sister was able to play Animal Jam at a friend's house.

December 21, 2012: My email inquiry resulted in the following response, which I will summarize as "Too bad, so sad.  Next time don't give out your password."  Here is the actual response, with the actual answer highlighted among the gobbledygook:

Customer Service 8, Dec 21 16:43 (MST):
Hello,
Thank you for contacting Animal Jam Support Headquarters.
We truly understand your frustration and are sorry to hear about the account issues your child encountered. We want to assure you that it is impossible to gain access to an Animal Jam account via illegal access, we have countless security measures in place. All passwords in Animal Jam as well as payment information is protected by 256-bit encryption, which is the highest AES (Advanced Encryption Status) available. There are 3 ways an account can be compromised:
-The password is shared either in real life or in game
-The "remember me" and/or "remember my password" option is selected on a computer
-The password is simply easy to guess or figure out
If you or your child feel your accounts have been compromised, the first thing you should do is reset all your account passwords. This can be done from your Parent Dashboard or via the main page at
http://www.animaljam.com/
Be sure to select account passwords that will be easy for you remember, but hard for someone else to guess. When creating a new password for your child's account, we recommend choosing one consisting of both letters and numbers that is unrelated to your child's real name or user name. We suggest these guidelines to ensure that the account remains as secure as possible.
For more detailed information on how to change your child's password, click here:
http://help.animaljam.com/entries/20112706.
We want to assure you once again that Animal Jam uses only the highest security measures available to protect its users and product. We truly appreciate you taking the time to let us know about this incident. Unfortunately, we cannot replace any lost or traded items at this time and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, if a Jammer is found to be breaking the Animal Jam rules, a moderator will take swift and appropriate action on their account. Additionally, remember to NEVER share passwords.
Thank you for taking the time to report this issue to us we will be sure to update you if there is anything more we can do for you.
Sincerely,
Animal Jam HQ

And my daughter's response to all this:  "I trusted her!"  Welcome to the real and brutal world, brought to you by National Geographic.

Update, April 14, 2013:  We've cut out Animal Jam completely.  Things are back to normal for my 8 year old, and life is good for me as a parent as well!  She is currently reading Catching Fire and was in the backyard this week practising with her bow and arrow, which she made herself.  Right now she is drawing a comic strip, and is back to her art work.  She is also playing the piano to accompany her violin playing sister... for fun.  She is in the process of writing a book, based on Animal Jam characters!  Not sure how much of this is from having a TV free or an AJ free environment, though...

My 8 year old niece was exposed to AJ at our home, when she was visiting her cousins.  Before the introduction, I told the kids no, and asked my brother-in-law if it was all right, telling him about our problems with addiction.  He basically blew me off, saying that his daughter would never have any interest in the computer.  A few weeks later, he confessed to me that he is now having problems as she is always asking to go on AJ.  He is a brave person to admit this to me.

Update, May 25, 2014:  I've finally decided to close the comments section.

I still continue to be be surprised by the number of children who take the time to write in, recounting their bad experiences.  There are also a few children who write in "Animal Jam is good!" and there was even one who complained that parents should not control what their children play.

I've also continued to receive posts from adults, most of whom are supportive.  I've also received two angry letters, from adults who do not like me suggesting that the literacy of children is in any way impacted by video game time, with not a shred of evidence offered, just spewing vitriol in personal attacks.  This is an opinion blog, like any other.  I am not going to let them use me as a punching bag to make them feel better about their own choices.  If anything, it smacks of insecurity.

I wrote this particular article as a service to other parents, and their children, to save everyone from the same type of agony I've gone through.  To those angry, insulting parents:  If all you can see is a criticism of your own parenting style, you should think about why you are so angry.  If you feel like you've made all the right choices, then you should be secure enough to ignore my comments as someone who has no idea what she's talking about.  May you find peace.

66 comments:

  1. Thank you for this review - I did read it before I agreed to let my daughter play Animal Jam. I should have taken your warning as I cannot even begin to describe what has happened to my daughter since she started playing this game. Cocaine it is!

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  2. nonymous, I feel your pain. Thank you for writing your confessional ;-) I hope you find a solution to get her off the cocaine, and if you do, please let me know what it is!

    We had an incident last Thursday that is leading to me putting an outright ban on Animal Jam. My daughter let someone else borrow her blue wings, then the borrower promptly traded them away for green wings which are much much less valuable. My daughter bawled as if someone died. She had worked hard to earn her blue wings. We don't need this kind of drama around here but part of me is thinking, hey, it's better that she learn this without losing something bad happening in real life rather than in the virtual world. But I'm still not cool with the outright materialism that this game promotes.

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  3. Thanks for this review. My son saw Animal Jam at a friend's house and has started asking for it. He hasn't been allowed to play video games yet-- he barely knows they exist except for AJ, and he is 6 years old. I hadn't given him and answer because I wanted to check it out first. Now I'm thinking of trying to find something else instead. Any suggestions?

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    1. My suggestion is no video games at all! I probably sound like a freak to suggest such a thing when 99.9% of parents allow and encourage video games. The problem with video games is that they could be doing something else, anything else, that contributes to their development. Exercise, reading, freeform play... childhood is so short and there is not much time for the modern child to play, since they're ferried between a gazillion activities which eat up their spare time. Here's an article which suggests cutting out video games: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704271804575405511702112290.html?fb_action_ids=10151225174705233&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

      From the article: "The secret to raising boys who read, I submit, is pretty simple—keep electronic media, especially video games and recreational Internet, under control (that is to say, almost completely absent). Then fill your shelves with good books."

      I wish more kids would read these days. If he absolutely *must* play online, my kids enjoy the Cool Math Games website, at coolmath.com.

      Thank you for writing in. I hope this helps.

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  4. I thought I would update my "confession" from above to illustrate how low I was willing to go to put an end to the animal jam nightamare that had taken over my home. I just lied, lied, lied. I feel so terrible about this whole thing but I am claiming the lesser of two evils. I basically told my daughter that Animal Jam is a "Winter Only" game and it is now OVER until next year. Keep in mind she just turned 6 and is in Senior Kindergarten and has no real sense of the Internet or computers. So I was able to pull the wool over her eyes - obviously would not work with an older child. Not a proud moment for me. However, I am not sorry I did it because since then I have found her more than one time on my laptop googling Animal Jam (google is my home page)and actually getting to the site - no idea how she learned how to do this. And just this week, she had an aha! moment where she recalled seeing animals with pet spiders and she deduced that those must come out at Halloween, so Animal Jam must start up again at Halloween !! She then proceeded to get down our kitchen calender and mark her entire playing schedule on the calender from October 2013 to January 2014. She actually drew a little computer keyboard on every other day of each week (she had been on "scheduled play" before). I watched this whole drama play out and just kept telling myself it is for her own good - probably to try and put a lid on my guilt. This game had truly become such an important part of her little 6-year old life - very scary.

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    1. I don't blame you mama. Too young to understand what you had to do.

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    2. I am sorry to hear about your troubles. Thank you for writing in and sharing your solution.

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  5. Thank you for this forthright and well-written post. Icing to the conclusion I reached as well just yesterday: Animal Jam HAD to go! My bright 9 year old had become addicted and the game was making her sad.

    The trading and accumulating part was fun but yes at times frustrating for her. I do think over time it also became a bit competitive and much worse, tied into her self worth. Was that due to just the material focus? Not for her. It was in combination with the negative social aspects of that environment. For example, after being slammed into virtual trees and being asked why SHE was in various spaces, as part of social maneuvering and tactics (typically from over 10 year old crowd, it seemed), she started questioning her herself. She wasn't pretty enough. Not wearing enough worthy clothes. Feeling "weird" and generally out of place. My daughter NEVER talked like that before. It was this addiction to Animal Jam and she was starting to become a sad little girl. One moment happy when a fav jammer was on with her and very frustrated the next when a mean one came on, which sometimes made the nice turn mean. This was taking a toll on my daughter's general mood and behaviors.

    She isn't used to such negative environments. Every child has to learn how to deal with negative behaviors and conflict and at first we had a lot of great discussions about it. However, the addictive quality of the game just as you described takes over and unfortunately much harm is done.

    Their target age is so vulnerable. Such a beautiful and delicate time of growth when they are becoming so much more aware of how the world operates. Do we really want an addiction and negative social behaviors to consume this time? Moral development also kicks in at this time. How does this experience affect that?

    My daughter is very upset over leaving but she also, thankfully, is aware of its negative influence on her. I suppose this comes partly from all the conversations we've had. So here is our plan so far to detangle from AJ: she decided she will give away all of her stuff on there and say goodbye to all her favorite people. They are so far being very sweet. She has told some that she is moving over to New Moon, which I so far believe will be a great platform for chatting about topics and showing kindness. I have also told her she will be getting a fun spa day with a close friend. Was it a bribe? Sadly, yes. However, it will also be a great date IRL and a healthy way to detox and de-stress. We will also continue to talk about how she feels, I will encourage her to write her friends daily while continuing to replace this addiction with other, healthier activities like additional exercise. We will take more walks and she is starting a new dance class.

    Parenting: not for the faint of heart.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your experience and your solution, which sounds great. I agree with you that it is such a beautiful and delicate time of growth.

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  6. My friend's daughter has played AJ before. She used to LOVE it. But she has stopped playing. She leaves her den unlocked, so anyone could get in because she likes to collect these things called "plushies" then has a trading party in her den for them. Her daughter told her mom about people trying to hook-up. (mom told me) I found that so disgusting! I had a feeling that they were adults. I found out that if the hook-ups were successful, they would put a heart sign and leave for their dens. I was baby-siting her daughter once, and she let me play AJ. I actually caught people asking out each other. Someone had said, "Let's come to my den" I followed them (since den was unlocked. When I got there, the female wolf was "sleeping" and the male wolf was JUMPING NEAR HER TAIL. The male said, "Does it harder and harder" and then the female goes "gets better and better". I can't believe AJ moderators let them say that! They kept putting heart signs! So AJ=bad idea. I think that AJ is like a hook-up training website. Period.

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    1. What a nightmare! AJ sex! Thanks for sharing your experience. How disgusting--I find it sad that children are so sexualized so early. There are no filters for age, so who knows how old the "jammers" are.

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    2. Hi, my daughter has been exposed to inappropriate sexual content on animal jam. I googled it and it is definitely not a safe online forum as I had believed it to be. It is referred to as mating and some players even post inappropriate videos on YouTube of their exploits. The language and evasion techniques were sophisticated enough to raise questions about the age and agenda of some players. For example, some words are deliberately misspelled to evade word filters and moderators. Players can be invited to a 'six party' at someone's den. I honestly don't think children could come up with some of the descriptions posted during 'mating'. I thought it was safe, but I'm shocked at what I've discovered. :-( Unfortunately, the description mentioned in the above comment is actually quite tame compared to some of what I've read. I'm really shocked.

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  7. Ok, Now that everybody has said everything negative time to shine a light. If anybody is falling for a scammer that is really too bad too sad, because scammers are EXTREMELY obvious. Also about the post above me with wolves- this almost NEVER happens. I follow most people to their dens and have never seen this and if I did I would report it. I asked my real-life AJ (Apple juice.... funny) friends what they would do. They all agreed with me. Also, the mods have so many people to watch the only way they can stop it all is if other people help them. Also, I find I use other non-RPG sites just as much as AJ. It is atleast a little addictive. I get onn most days, BUT I still am a A student. Membership is $5 a month. It teaches money, and science well in my opinion. It also helps with being observant because for most areas there is a prize to win if you find all the animals native to the area and book them in your journey book. I have never been scammed. Ok now to memberships again. Only $5 a month, I manage my money and YOU the parent) do NOT have to buy the kid a membership. I do not get payed money for chores- so it helps me to work on managing money. The animals are cute and the one thing I really agree with is 10 and up. I am older than 10 and not all that addicted- considering getting a membership. I have personally reported some one for trying to say bad words. Although in my long time with AJ I have only encountered this once- They said "duck you" and the like. Also only once have I been told to leave, and that was because some-one was crying (emoticon) and I said "What is wrong?" some-one else said, "Leave her alone!! She is my friend" nothing else. I said "Ok" later the player came to my den and said "sorry" It is generally a caring website. Do NOT let people 'borrow' items. It isn't common that I have seen though.

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  8. Hello. I am not a parent, but a kid who knows the other side of the story to the animals jam nightmare. There is more to it than you think. Rarely sexuality is seen, but now, people are giving out skype information! I was offered to skype with some aj users, I accepted, they were all kids but they seemed a bit... Unusual. They all were talking about how amazing they were and their rarity. They online date too. Nothing but online and they claim to love eachother. I have seen it secondhand, many, many times. Sadly the kids even try to meet up. And yes, I'm one of them. I did meet up with a user called imaalpha33013. We met in a park. She was very quiet and rarely talked. After this time I never did it again because the other kids weren't frm my town. The kids acted like they were on a. They snck behind their families backs to skype eachother. Unfortunately I did this too. I was caught a number of times. Yet I still continued. After months of having my devices taken away I gained the ability to stay off skype and anim jam. Most of the users on skype now play a game called transformed, which honestly is just as terrible as animal jam. Now you can chat with over two hundred people at once and you can say whatever you want. I played it for a day and absolutely foud it atrocious. Animal jams users are the issue. I logged into aj yesterday, and saw nothing but let's trade or come to my den if you have a crush on me. (desperation at the max.) I watched them determine who was the rarest to date the desperate girl. The new couple immediately said they were perfect for eachother and that hey loved eachother. It's a nightmare, like you said. The kids hook up with people they don't know, or even seen as a user before. I'm still not done. Now there is a daily gem bonus and a gift bonus also daily, where if you log in every day they reward you. They claim the longer you play the rarer you are. It's all a scam to get your money. The kids think that aj is fun, and it's not. It's evil. I watched my cousins pay it and the whole time they did nothing but trade and fakedate. It was a living nightmare. Especially since one of them is 7 and he was fake dating and skypingthe other people. He had even been using sexuality basedlanguage with them. I hated to see him go through what I went through. I told him about this bog and it got his parents to delete his accounts and disallow online gaming. The only issue is now his brother is using skype... Behind their backs! The kids he skype are kids. Except he ied and told me they are from his school. When he went to bed his phone beeped and he got a skype chat request from someone I accepted it and he said dude you really rock at lying you got your gullible cousin to believe that bull****. I was horrified. My brother later asked for an animal jam account and I immediately influenced my mother into not allowing it. I think that was a good decision.

    National Geographic, addicting kids to cocaine alternative games since we cares when.

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  9. so animal jam makes you dumber ?

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    1. Playing Animal Jam *instead of doing other things* robs you of the chance to do things that make you *smarter*. Did you know you are in control of your intelligence? You can make yourself more intelligent.

      I am saying that playing Animal Jam is wasted time.

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  10. I was debating whether to post or not while reading the comments. My younger sister plays this game. I helped set an account up for her and everything. It looked cute with little animals and playing many MMOs throughout my life I said "Hey, why not."

    She had fun and made friends and even suckered me into making an account with her to play the games to help her get things. Now being 21 I didn't find as much amusement in this game as she did and only got on sparsely when she asked me to.

    While poking around it with her and watching her play I will say some of what you've commented on is true. Like all other Massive Multiplayer Online games it's all about having valuables and the best things. They like to collect and show off and what not. There is "hooking up" but I don't feel it's serious or that younger children understand, but I made sure my sister stayed well away from those kinds of people.

    Now I don't feel it's a bad game. It's exactly what you'd expect in a MMO for younger audiences. It's a good way for kids to learn via games focused on recycling and animal trivia. It also gives parents the opportunity to teach their children about online safety. I feel if you talk to your children before hand they wont have any problems with this game.

    Teach them to never share your information online and never fully believe what others tell you. Give them that chance to learn and understand that from an early age. You get adults having online security issues and keeping their own identity secure. Why not start young? Ofcourse having a simple MMO account hacked is on a much smaller scale then say being cheated over Ebay or having your credit card information stolen. Still isn't it best to get that understanding in even if it is minimal? Even if you keep your children from video games it'll only last so long. They'll play a game at a friends house and BAM. Let them start in a safe, controlled environment and give them that opportunity to learn how to be safe on the internet while having fun.

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    1. I agree that it is great to teach online safety through Animal Jam, but that lesson does not take hundreds of hours to learn-- it can be learned in a few hours, in a forum that is not so addictive.

      The more I discover about the players in Animal Jam, the more it is clear that adults play this "game." It is not the kind of environment that I want to throw the kids into. My child's school hosted an internet awareness lecturer, and that would be more bang for the buck in terms of hours spent and education received.

      Delete
  11. Thank you. You hit he nail on the head. My child also had very similar experiences. Who would have thought that NG and AJ would be the ones to teach about violation of trust and consumerism?

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    1. National Geographic has come under fire recently for its dumbing down and decay from the institution that it once was: See this opinion piece, "UFOs, Bigfoot and Booze: This is National Geographic?" in Canada's Globe and Mail. I agree with the author Michael Parfit that "It must be baldly stated: The National Geographic Society, through several channels that are now its primary voice, is using its once-honourable name to produce misleading shows that can cause harm to children." http://m.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/ufos-bigfoot-and-booze-this-is-national-geographic/article9968038/?service=mobile

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  12. I play animal jam. My mother showed me this article. I also play on a website called Fantage. I have "joined the club"(payed for a membership) on Animal Jam. I have decided to continue playing until my membership runs out and then give away all of my items. I feel that Fantage is a safer website to play on and I will play that instead.

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    1. I haven't had a chance to look at the Fantage site in any detail, but isn't it also a game of acquisition and materialism?

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  13. Life is to short to judge what others do in there spare time. In the end let's be honest to play or not to play will not determine if your child will attended Harvard.the game is like any game its fun and that's why kids like to do it because they're socializing let's not look too far into it.

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    1. I don't judge others, but I do get to choose what is right for my family. If you want to spend your life texting and playing video games, that is up to you. My job is to provide guidance for my kids and to give them the best chance in life. Allowing them to play an addictive game that takes over all of their spare time is not doing them any favours.

      The last thing I want is an illiterate child with no grasp of spelling or grammar because the only things they read are Animal Jam missives, texts, emails and Facebook postings from other illiterate children. Or an obese child whose butt is glued to her surfing chair.

      I agree that life is too short. Too short to spend it playing Animal Jam.

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  14. Researching Mommy- thank you so much for your comments! My eight year old daughter became obsessed with AJ. I have had to close her account for good. I compare it to when I used to smoke... if she wasn't playing AJ, she was thinking about when, how much and where she could possibly sneak off to play it. We are done with MMORPG games. DONE. The Wii is coming back out.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about your mirror experience. Thanks for writing in. Scary how much it is like cocaine addiction. MMORPG games are the worst! I wish you and your family the best!

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  15. While I appreciate your perspectives, if addiction is the worst this game provides, I am going to allow my son to waste his money and buy the membership. I believe in teaching my son how to deal with life's obstacles through controlled and measured experiences.
    1 - My 7 year old has $98 in his savings. After his 6 month membership expires, he will have to decide if he wants to spend his last dollar on another membership. This will be tough because I will be subtly tempting him with other things he can now not afford based on his bad decision of an overpriced membership.
    2- Addiction. He will get 1 hour a day on his computer. If he wants to spend his 1 hour playing a fun game, that is his decision. The important part is he will,learn to manage obsession. I have no worries about hearing any whining as he already knows what happens we he whines. If my son doesn't learn how to manages his wants now, what happens when he is old enough to smoke, drink, gamble, eat on his own, etc?
    3 - Materialism. Good or bad, half of life is about material goods. It is what you do with them that defines the bad side of materialism. We NEED little more than a hut, yet we do buy homes. We NEED little more than a used $10,000 car but most of us own a nicer one. My point is, materialism is relative to income, culture, and accessibility. My son has learned to trade on his own in Animal Jam, a HUGE life lesson. He gave a little boy at school one of his items because he really wanted it but could not get it on his own.

    I genuinely appreciate your taking the time to share the negative side of Animal Jam as all I could find were the positive reviews of AJ elsewhere. I do have to challenge your issues about passwords though. Your daughter just learned a very valuable lesson about trust and passwords. IMHO, I would consider this a positive experience.

    Thank you again for taking time and effort for your website.

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    1. Thanks for writing in, Johnny G. It seems you have thought this out clearly. I hope you have an easier time limiting your son's time on Animal Jam than I did! One hour of Animal Jam passes by pretty quickly.

      The addiction is a real worry though. Here is an interesting study which looks at video game addiction which included 3,000 test subjects: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/19/video-game-addiction-nearly-1-in-10-children-risk-_n_810980.html

      Because it's such a short article, I'll quote it here:

      "Roughly 1 in 10 children who play video games are at risk of becoming pathologically addicted to them, found a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

      That means for every classroom of 30 kids, three of them could develop a hardcore digital addiction that boosts the risk of depression, social phobia and poor school performance, the study found.

      Over a two-year span, researchers from the U.S., Hong Kong and Singapore studied the video game habits of 3,000 Singaporean children from grades 3, 4, 7 and 8.

      Kids who averaged 31 or more hours of gameplay a week were classified as pathological or "obsessive" gamers and were determined more likely to develop serious mental health issues.

      Inclined to believe video game addiction is just a passing phase? WebMD reports that 84 percent of students who were considered addicts when the study began were still addicted two years later.

      Still, such findings are preliminary. U.S. News reports:

      Although pathological video gaming appears to share a number of characteristics with other addictive behaviors, such as pathological gambling, the researchers noted that "pathological gaming" is not yet an established psychological disorder."

      When your child is 7, he's easier to control than when he becomes a teenager. I wish you and your son the best. You sound like a caring parent if you are willing to do the research.

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    2. Also, Johnny G, it might be worthwhile to read the comments section so you get an idea of all the experiences of others. There are adults who have problems managing obsessions, and not sure how a 7 year old would learn to control himself. It would have to be an external source controlling his use, you, which will work for now.

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  16. It seems I "lucked out". I took my son to KMart and showed him the amount of Legos he could buy with his subscription to Animal Jam. I explained how a 6 month subscription was like buying Legos but he had to return them in 6 months. His response? "What a rip off!" He opted to forego the subscription and buy the Lego set, which I still felt was a rip off too but at least he keeps the Legos for future building plus resale when he out grows them.
    Maybe luck, or maybe old fashioned parenting, or a bit of both. I just don't understand how a child dictates what they do in a parent's home. If I can't explain to help them make their own RIGHT decision, then I make it for him. Any whining immediately leads to less privileges so that nips that in the bud real quickly because I ALWAYS follow through no my warnings.
    Anyway, thanks for the insight.

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  17. My child was playing this game when all the sudden a bubble pops up with the question "Do you like me?". I immediately felt bothered by this, so I started googling around.

    As it turns out, Animal Jam is infamous for allowing the following chat conversations to take place: "Do you like me", "Are you a boy or girl?" "Let's go back to my igloo/den/etc....". From there, the animals "jump" on each other and simulate sex while the gamers post lewd and inappropriate screen chat messages to describe what the animals are doing.

    National Geographic claims that the moderators will block such content, but apparently they don't consider phrases such as "thrusts really hard into opening" and "I'm sticking all of me in you" to be offensive enough to block.

    Perhaps these phrases were eventually blocked, I really don't know. But my point is that the moderators have no system in place to stop a user from creating a new account and typing in lewd phrases that are intentionally misspelled or have spaces (with the goal of keeping themselves off the moderators automated keyword radar). In fact, the Animal Jam users who do this are very proud of escaping the censorship of the moderators and engaging in what is known as "Animal Jam Sex".

    Just google "animal jam hardcore mating" to see the you tube videos and screenshots of what I am talking about. When you see the chat bubble comments made, it is 100% obvious that this is not a child (or even a pre-teen) making these comments. It could be a teenager. But more than likely it is an adult, as it is very detailed and graphic.

    Even worse.....The "animal jam hardcore mating" video is only one of thousands out there showing that this occurs regularly on Animal Jam. There are many gamers out there who are very proud of their Animal Jam sex scenes, and they love to share them on you tube and other blogs. I also found many comments and blog posts from other concerned moms who started googling around after their child received the "Do you like me" or "let's go back to my igloo/den" request.

    When I first saw all this I wondered if perhaps the videos and screenshots of Animal Jam sex, along with all the graphic comments, were photoshopped. But unfortunately they aren't.

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  18. I must write here to say this Animal jam game has the worst customer support ive ever experienced. I bought membership for my daughter through my visa card and I still have no idea if this went through or not. I get no answer from anyone and no one seems to care. Her account isn't updated as member but it seems they took the money from my account. I have gotten no respons to my emails and no one is answering when I try to call. Theres no confirmation email sent to me as to confirm the buy went through. Everything seems to be hanging in the air. Seriously bad in my opinion. Anyone who knows if this is a common thing?

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  19. i AM A CHILD MYSELF AND I MUST SAY THIS GAME IS HIGHLY ADDICTIVE I GET IN FIGHTS WHEN I PLAY BUT KIDS IN THIS ARE GROSS I AM VERY GORY BUT SOME KIDS ARE CALLING THIS "LIFE" I JUST CALL IT A GAME AND CALL THEM PATHETIC BECAUSE THEIR GETTING MAD OVER A GAME. I AM DISAPOINTED BECAUSE THESE KIDS ARE GETTING GROSS I WILL ADMIT THAT I AM GROSS TOO BUT THEY TAKE IT TOO FAR. IF YOU SAY THEY ARE NOT CHILDREN YOUR WRONG MY SCHOOL FRIEND IS DOING THAT STUFF TOO WHILE I ONLY GET IN FIGHTS AND ALMOST CURSE. MY FRIEND IS ONE THAT DOES BOTH THE GROSS AND THE FIGHTING. I PERSONALLY THINK THAT THIS GAME SHOULD SHUT DOWN SAME THING GOES TO CLUB PENGUIN. i AM A 9 YEAR OLD BOY AND THIS IS MY MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE WHO DON'T ENJOY THIS GAME

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  20. Hi I'm rascal555 on animal jam and i LOVED your blog, but i mist disagree with you a bit. Yes, animal jam is like cocain, but it has its good parts. In my opinion RPing helps with acting and character understanding, like say somebody says 'slashes across -insert name here-'s face.' it is showing the child that that person/character is mean or negative. And yes, there are strip clubs, bars, and dating, and ive tried dating. I dont give out info and stuff like that, and i dont have cybersex. So in my opinion with the dating, its ok just dont tell them deep personal stuff (email, skype, last name, ect.). And yes, there are scammers and ive had my brawl with them too. Theres bullying aswell but i try my best not to start stuff. Ive been bullied once, i cried. And also there are badwords that do get through the chat filter. I only do one and its sexy. I say smexy and swexy. And sometimes you can get hacked so i advise telling your child 'i dont care who they are or how much you trust them, they will hack you and they can stalk us. Dont tell them info or your password.'
    Hope this was a bit broghter than the negative side although you did have your points.
    Sincerely,
    rascal555

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    1. I publish these comments from children because I want others to see the type of children who support AJ, although I have not published some of the nastier posts. Almost all are riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, with a writing ability lower than the grade/age level. I wonder where their parents are when they're writing these comments.

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  21. I see many people doing scamming and many other things on AJ. Julian2 is very famous on Animal Jam, mostly for his Mail Time on You Tube. Lots of people like him, and I don't want to be critical, but he isn't as great as he looks. He shows off his stuff (which are just very tiny colored pixels creating a picture), as do many other people. His videos are pretty much always long, him talking about anything he can in that amount of time. Animal Jam is very addicting for me, I must confess, and I show off my things too. Yes, people do mate and have babies, sleep together, attempt to swear and curse by saying "pitch" or "he'll" (if you can imagine what those words would be), but you can also learn from it. AJ has places where you can enter and learn about the "Big Cats" and how they are endangered, watch videos on different types of organisms, and read fun facts about animals (this mostly happens if you find a specific animal or during the 10 seconds in between certain games). Animal Jam encourages you to learn about organisms, but they bribe you into doing it. I love collecting certain items, showing off my things to non members, especially my Arctic Wolf. This website put you in a difficult situation in which you have to decide whether you should go along with others or be yourself. Sometimes I hold sessions in my den where i discuss how to be yourself and not to date on Animal Jam, but nobody is the TAD bit interested in being yourself. To be honest, when I hold these announcements, I feel like I am lying to myself, discussing the things that not even I am doing. One guy claimed he was DARED to do this, but I doubt it: He came up to my Arctic Wolf and was jumping on me, laughing. I didn't know what was going on until he said, "You have no idea what I'm doing to you, do you?" Then I was completely and utterly disgusted! He was imitating the mating, as close as a million pixels clumped together could, that mostly everyone was doing on this website. Although AJ allows this, so does Free Realms, Pixie Hollow, Club Penguin, Petpet Park, e.t.c. Do these websites know this is happening, the discrimination, the cursing, the fighting, the way 7 year olds are learning some information that they shouldn't know until the day they are to sit and watch it in class? These sites should be fun for everybody, not just for the inappropriate ones.
    Thank you for letting me express my thoughts on here!

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  22. Hi parents, I agree with you, I played AJ for 2 years, but i lost my items on aj due to stupid scammers and hackers! And plus AJ does not give back my items, such poor customer service. If I was able to, I would ban the game from the internet for infinite years
    -Melody

    P.S. Animal Jam SUCKS

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  23. Alright. The game is meant for 8-12 y/o.
    Anyways, I play it, but rarely. I'm 11 y/o.
    Basically, the older you are, the more items and rares you have. Well AJHQ is taking that away from us by bringing them back in store.
    Animal Jam does suck.

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  24. My daughter is 9. She has recently joined AJ and is nagging me to get a membership. I picked her up from after school care & the first thing she said wasn't "Hi Mum" it was "can I play AJ?" My answer was no. For the last week she has been unable to get to sleep because she is thinking about AJ. Last night she should have - was - really tired after a school disco & a very late night. We had a busy day too so got her into bed at 7.30. She was still awake at 9pm thinking about AJ. I have banned her from it today (Sunday) and am considering allowing her to get on only once a week. A lot of her friends from school are on it so that makes it hard - it is part of their socialising. I think it is all they talk about at school. Never mind. I am her Mother, not her friend. She is a child that has anxiety issues which we are working through with a Psych. We are doing stepladders & when she completes a step or a series of steps she gets a reward. I was going to reward her with a 1 month membership. I am going to change that reward now. She is completely obsessed and it is affecting her sleep. We had been working hard on improving her sleep with the Psych & AJ has completely undone that. Sure, it isn't worry that is keeping her awake, it is THINKING about AJ. We have an appointment with the psych tomorrow. Will bring it up with her. I regret allowing her on it. I had a look at it & fell into the trap of thinking it was a good site because it was a National Geographic game. I thought the parent dashboard would mean it was a safe game. Not so. She has come across some mean people along the way, but by far her unhealthy obsession with it has me extremely concerned & whilst I may allow her on once a week I fully intend to wean her off it. I am really angry that NG are exploiting children like this. Disgusting.

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  25. I completely agree the site is full of texting scamming hacking and a lot more. There should be more learning instead of just playing

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  26. I completely agree with you, Animal Jam can be a scary and addictive thing; I myself have gotten really addicted to it. I used to play for 7 hours a day, and I even dreamed about it and thought about it 24/7, even when I wasn't online. I knew what it was doing to my life, and I knew that I had to stop it. There were some instances where I'd just go "cold-turkey," but I know I can't permanently quit, because in actuality, kind people DO exist on this twisted game, and the innocence of just laughing with buddies is what makes me stay. Thankfully I'm not on Animal Jam as often as I used to be, and I've found better ways to spend my time.

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  27. i agree. i might not be a mom, but i am an 14 year old older sis to an 8 year old girl who happens to be addicted to animal jam. My younger sis has everything an animal jam player could want, and she got hacked, scammed, cheated, and cyber bullied many times. Animal Jam should be banned, and you're right: it's just like Cocaine for the 10 and under age group. But maybe, even more dangerous. In animal jam, there is a little pillow room thing where you can adopt someone, (trust me, I've watched my younger sis play that thing day. over. DAY.) and my sis has a friend that was adopted and virtually "raped", in which she reported, blocked, and escaped to my younger sis' locked den. Animal Jam isn't safe at all, it puts the value of things that aren't real, and just to keep her membership going when my mom said "no" after the hard lesson of giving my sis a 6 month membership for digital items, she has begged me to use my own credit card for it. Animal Jam is dangerous, and should be banned off of the internet world, and refunding everyone that has bought anything from animal jam with real money. I used to check on my younger sister's account, and she had several messages which stated the same thing: "What item do you want for the ______?" Insert whatever rare or hard to find item, and that's it. My sis is now thinking of Animal Jam 24/7 and has actually played for 15 hours each day on a 3 day weekend. Once school starts, this is going to be a MAJOR problem. She is now a non-stop talking machine about animal jam, and when she plays in the same room that I'm drawing in (i'm a digital artist myself), she leaves her sound on and the music, after hearing it several hundred times by now, is driving me NUTS.
    PLEASE take the part about how an online friend of my younger sister's was virtually RAPED, and she was the same age as my younger sister. 8. The next victim could be your OWN KIDS that play animal jam, be CAREFUL!!!!

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  28. i'm a kid who plays aj and i must say it is VERY addicting. i quit playing animal jam because of scammers. i got scammed about 5 times!! and people can be VERY bad on there! i am never playing animal jam again.

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  29. My kids were introduced to this site by a neighbor and had made their own avatars and passwords w/o even telling me. The only way I found out was that one of them asked if they could subscribe. I told her that I would have to do a little research on it first which is when I found this site and was horrified! I explained to them that some people on that site are mean to each other and could be mean to them and steal their "collected items" and that I wanted to protect them from that so they would not be allowed to play it. Then I blocked that page and others that I saw in the course of the investigation. Very simply, I googled a game name plus sex and if a bunch of youtube videos came up, I blocked that site. (Two of the others that I blocked were Pixie Hollow and Club Penguin.) The neighbors are more upset than my kids are and have told my kids that I am wrong about AJ. Then the other day one of them told mine that she couldn't play outside after dinner because she had a date on AJ. She is 8 years old. I tried to talk to her parents but was told that her game play is strictly monitored and limited. Thank you for your review. I feel like we dodged a bullet.

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  30. owe my gosh i stand by animal jam its the best game ever i play it and yes you could say i'm a bit lured into it but only the best games,u get addicted to. not saying that it doesn't have its flaws just telling u that its not bad to have something u enjoy in life! i mean kids are suppose to have a good child hood and animal jam helps making that happen.

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    1. I publish these comments from children because I want others to see the type of children who support AJ, although I have not published some of the nastier posts. Almost all are riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, with a writing ability lower than the grade/age level. I wonder where their parents are when they're writing these comments.

      Delete
  31. Animal Jam's user policies provide inadequate protections for a child who trusts others to act as they say they will. The site's user policies encourage sociopathic behavior by allowing users who commit some awful act to silently disappear.

    Ironically, the ability to "hide" your user name from others was added (apparently) as a means of protecting privacy. It is being used to do harm instead.

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  32. My 8-year-old has been playing Animal Jam for a few months, for about an hour a day (maybe 2 on weekends). She continues to be a well adjusted, intelligent, kind child. She often tells me about information she has learned regarding animals and the environment. If anything inappropriate happens, she immediately reports it, leaves that world, and goes to another. I also have an account so I can check in and see what she and the other players are doing. She has never been scammed because she has been taught what scamming is and how it manifests itself. She has not been bullied and stands up for Jammers who are being bullied. She is an excellent reader who reads constantly. She has her purple belt in karate. Like with any children's activity, supervision and open communication are essential. Hopefully, my grammar and spelling meet your standards.

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    1. You sound like an informercial for Animal Jam. You wouldn't happen to work for Animal Jam? Sorry, you just don't sound real. "If anything inappropriate happens, she immediately reports it, leave that world and goes to another." If you have a normal or even a very bright 8 year old, chances are she is not reporting every questionable incident, because most 8 year olds would not recognize sexual innuendo for what it is, unless she is precocious. I know that mine, despite attending sexual education classes in school, and despite being taught quite early on, would recognize inappropriate behaviour in animal avatars. No real mother would so smugly report this, as it would entail sitting with the child as she plays to monitor. Real moms don't have the time to sit there for an hour a day as you claim (and two on weekends!), often enough to be able to claim that the child reports every incident.

      Your final comment is mean spirited and you sound like you think you are superior to other mothers, if you were real. I note that you set up this account just for the purpose of replying to me, in November 2013. I write this blog to help others. Now as to why you wrote in... Either you are not real or you are bending the truth to assure yourself you have made the right choice in choosing Animal Jam.

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    2. And also... the criticism of grammatical and spelling errors applied to children, not adults. I still stand by my insistence that parents make sure children have the time to learn to read and write.

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  33. Hello. I'm 13 years old, and i've played AJ for three years now, and i think it has detetoriated over time. At first, scamming and sex weren't even heard of. Then AJHQ themselves started ENCOURAGING children to collect rares, adding the Rare Item Monday, which was a rare item on sale for only that day. It usually costed a bucket of gems too. The filter was letting us get away with saying anything we wanted, and getting banned was nearly impossible, even when scamming. Reporting didn't work, glitches were all over the place and people just got meaner and meaner. Then the "Clan" nonsense started up. Kids copied Erin Hunter's Warrior books, claiming areas as their territories and viciously "attacking" and swearing at any innocent child that happened to show up in them. Anyone who wasn't in a clan was automatically a "kittypet" and was insulted. Yes, i still play AJ, but only with the friends i made ever since i joined. We share facts about our countries, we chat about things and we role-play. ( The RP is a Harry Potter-like thing, with magic ) If my friends weren't there, i would have quit long ago. We are considering moving on to a different, safer and better game.

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  34. I'm 14 and my sister is eight. My mom pays no attention to what my sis does on aj. She assumes that my sis will just be playing some cummy games with dinky little animals. My sis hooks up with other random people and has no idea what is going on most of the time. So glad I made my mom read this article. My sis was banned from aj ever since

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  35. Animaljam is a brilliant game for children! Although whenever you play the game theres always atleast someone asking if they could go out with you (Which is extreemly innapropriat). I remember one time my 9 year old child logging on and some other boy telling her to do the "sleep action". He suddenly started hopping on her saying very graphic sex roleplay words. I immediatly told her to log off. It discusted me how some child or some sick minded dirty old man could do that. So everytime she logs on i make sure that im briefly monertering her, and i highly recomend you guys to do that too as it could brain wash your innocent childs mine. Hope this helped!
    P.S. Sorry for the horrible grammar im just really tired at the moment.

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  36. I am absoulutly HORRIFIED with this game. Im a 12 year old girl and i LOVED this game untill....
    I asked my dad to buy membership so he let me an he baught it online. I Logged on and i had no membership.My dad went to the bank to get out money for dinner and it said "card unavailible". He called up our bank and it said his card almost got hacked into and it was done for fraud. Well we never got a reply to the 100's of emails we sent, there advice help line is extreemly poor and all they said is "sorry we cannot do anything". Me and my dad are broke and extreemly discusted with this game. I DO NOT recomend playing this HORRIBLE game and how they stole our money. Im extreemly angry and i would watch out when buying membership online!

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  37. Thank you so much for all of this information on Animal Jam. After reading all of the comments I have permanently taken my kids off of Animal Jam. I thought that it was an innocent game but it is not. I noticed some strange writings in my daughters notebook about Animal Jam which led me to this sight. I thank God that I found this before it was too late. My children actually seemed happy that I have taken them of off it forever. Beware this game is so addictive that it started changing my kids. It was such a wake up call. Thank you!

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  38. i am a nine year old girl and i play animaljam and im really trying to quit so im trying so hard. i have played animaljam for 9 months and i think its a really bad game i am really trying to quit! so i am gettting a lot of really cool lessons like: piano lessons, art lessons, singing lessons, guitar lessons and finally school lessons i am home schooled i do not go to school but i do use www.khanacademy.org it is a great after school/home school website and i am gonna go on at least four or more bike rides a week so im really trying to quit www.animaljam.com it is a really bad site there is a lot of scammers online and mean people so i will give you a big warning....

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  39. I am 9 and I play animal jam I have played animal jam for about 6 months I started playing because then I could talk to my friends who play animal jam I am trying to limit how much I play but it is hard... it is very fun I had my bow and arrows scammed on animal jam but now I have 4 bow and arrows on animal jam :D please if you decide to play animal jam be careful of your actions there are a lot of scammers and mean people who im sure only scam and be mean because they can and as people say its just a game which is right but people can be easily offended.... I would recommend to play animal because its very fun but limit the amount of time you play it and think before you act. I have warned you...

    sincerely lugerruger (lugerruger is my animal jam username)

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  40. I, too, have had these same issues with my children and Animal Jam. I have learned that National Geographic's affiliation is in name only. It is a business arrangement for National Geographic to make money off this highly profitable garbage, which I think it is unconscionable. The only educational things children learn is about coveting material items, thievery, scams, hacking, and group sex parties. The whole premise is to covet items. Honest children bug their parents for memberships and gift cards to get the items. They also spend endless hours trying trade or earn them. They then get them stolen from ruthless older children and adults. Animal Jam does nothing to stop this. They have made their money, that not child safety is their one and only concern.

    Animal Jam HQ has moderators and customer service reps who repeatedly speak of how children's safety is their first concern. DO NOT BE FOOLED. These are just word, their actions speak very differently. The fact that they have moderators DOES NOT MAKE IT SAFE and the measures in place do nothing to stop the stealing, cheating, hacking, scamming and sex parties that are the most prevalent parts of the game mostly due to the fact that there are a lot of adults pretending to be children. This is not a safe environment for children. There is a lot of scamming, hacking, These adults scam the kids, or those who lure children to their den to 'sex' with them. There are also references to drug use by users. Animal Jam is quite aware of this fact. Safety is not their first concern, it is a company. Making money is. One experience of talking to their customer service department will confirm this for any parent.


    DO NOT SIGN YOUR CHILD UP FOR ANIMAL JAM.

    Signed,

    A parent who was sadly misguided by the misconception that this would be an educational ventured backed by National Geographic. It has been nothing but a nightmare.

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  41. I agree that Animal Jam is BAD BAD BAD! Anger, learning to scam, to hack, and coveting of the most worthless thing (electronic data bits) are all learned and on top it is HIGHLY addictive. I'm having my 13 year old read this blog to get an understanding of what it is doing for her.

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  42. I researched Aj if it was really safe and I am shocked.

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  43. I agree.Animal Jam is not a very educational website. No website is ever educational- It's practically animal abuse.
    what I do to keep my child safe- I've got only one daughter named Amanda aged 9- and my husband died many years ago.
    Since it's the both of us, I find it difficult to save time for her. I noticed when I got home, my child used to cover or hide the computer. Checking the history (CTRL + H) was no use, since she knew how to delete it.
    She received not so great marks, and I grew suspicious. When I suddenly returned home earlier, i caught her playing AJ, and she told me of it's EDUCATION. I was kinda relieved, but then why had my daughter failed in science, including the Biology part? I let her play for a while- and then I checked- She didn't learn anything- trading, scamming and talking with random people and learning ADULT stuff, was all she.
    I then saw her talking with someone random. Then I put a password on a computer. So, to keep your child safe:
    1. Keep a password on the computer.
    2. Limit her timing.
    3. Watch what she does.
    4. Open history after every hour to check what she searches on the computer.
    5. You might want to access the parent board on AJ website to make sure she doesn't use abusive words.
    6.DO NOT LET HER ADOPT CHILDREN AND STUFF!
    7. Check her Buddy List.
    8. Make sure your daughter gives MORE time to study.
    9. AND LASTLY....... bullying is usual the cause for Computer addiction, making the child need special 'friends'. Make sure to interact with your child and take her for walks. Children who aren't active often end up poorly in studies.

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