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The Virtual Pet Takeover

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket In an article that appeared in the Style section of The New York Times today, Tina Kelley tells of parents who are being put in charge of the wellbeing of their offspring's virtual pets as the kids head off to camp. The piece features interviews with 3 different moms--two who live in the suburbs (Parkland, Florida and Howell, NJ), and one who lives here. The suburban moms, both of whom stay at home, are more willing to ensure that their kids' Webkinz are fed and played with, something Momcierge founder Alyssa Sadoff says she can't do. "I just don't have the commitment for them as I have for the living things." Joan Selko, mother of 3 and caregiver to 40 Webkinz, says, "To me it's just like a job; I have to get in, take care of all their things, and I have to get out." Sue Ostroff says she even "started playing a little bit," after she began taking care of her daughter Sydney's 12 creatures. Is this a case of parents gone overboard or moms who just don't mind helping out? Ostroff says she thinks the toys are useful, teaching children lessons in responsibility. If left alone, the Webkinz don't die but become sick, turning green and appearing with ice packs affixed to their tiny foreheads, desperately in need of medicine that costs KinzCash. Kids don't want to lose their hard-earned money--procured through quizzes, jobs, and other activities. Says Ostroff of her daughter, "She knows this is her little pet, she needs to take care of it, and when she's not available, she asks us to."
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