A Slate writer tries out the regulated joys of Club Penguin, a social networking site for tweens, and finds himself dating an alleged 12-year-old girl. That is, his blue penguin went virtual sledding with a pink penguin.
This summer, when Disney bought Club Penguin for $700 million, there was a lot of hand-wringing about the time our kids spend online. In my few weeks there, Club Penguin surprised me in how well it approximated a middle-school playground, with the daredevils, the flirts, the boys obsessed with sports and games, the girls in a circle. (A sign-off that I thought I would never see online: “gtg, cheerleading.”) My guess is that Club Penguin complements these kids’ real lives, and it’s slightly hypocritical to tell them to turn off the computer and go play kick the can.
I’m so old I’ve actually played kick the can — about 45 years ago. I recently joined Facebook in the hopes of learning what social networking is all about. So far, I remain clueless.