The parallel world of virtual play has enraptured a new demographic. ABC's Kate Snow (subscription required) examined how pre-teen children as young as three years old love to enter the online universe introduced to them by the Webkinz line of stuffed animals. Players decorate imaginary rooms and purchase imaginary gifts for their toys. Soon the site will expand to include social networking, "training wheels for myspace," as Ann Pleshette Murphy of ABC's Good Morning America put it. If it teaches children no other skill for later life, Snow quipped, "they will be masters at online shopping."
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