Pandada is an online social networking game that was launched in 2008. It is currently a live site that is aimed at children from 6 to 14 years old. The site was originally tested in beta mode for free until the program resolved its bugs and programming issues. . The site is a cute and innocuous children’s website with cute, non-threatening red panda bears and small forest animals, much like children’s stuffed animals or the animated animals on a preschool TV show. Members choose a red panda as their avatar and move around the site chatting with other avatars.
There are various levels of membership. Kids can try the website with a free membership; however, this limits the activity they can have in the virtual world. Paid memberships start at $5.95 per month with discounts for 6 and 12 month memberships. A paid membership allows players to enjoy all the features in the world. The site also has a currency for members to get free memberships called Panda Gold. Members can earn this currency by completing surveys, watching videos, or completing offers. Panda Gold can also be exchanged for the main currency of the site, simply called “coins”. The website is the basis of the game. There is no file download to operate the game. The website is only available in English.
New members of Pandada choose a red panda bear avatar to be their online persona. They choose a home for their panda and can modify it to suit their personality. The main goal of the world is for players to earn “coins” to pay for their panda’s life in the virtual world. Players buy food, clothing, shelter, and household items from their avatars. Coins unlock these features and also open up opportunities for players to interact with other players. Members can chat about their pandas with other members in a chat room and become friends with other players. The website’s mascot is named Henry. He is the panda bear that acts as the host and the face of Pandada.
What is good
Pandada is a fairly innocent website that will mainly appeal to boys and girls well below the age of ten who are interested in friendship with other children. The pandas are designed to appeal to young children and do not appear threatening. Facial expressions are friendly and pleasant. The company that produced the website was successful in designing an innocent-looking atmosphere for children. There are no adult themes in the virtual world or on the website. There is no violence, drinking, smoking, drug use, sex or offensive language.
The main focus of Pandada that will win the respect of parents is the ability of children to grasp and manage financial concepts. Players must be responsible with their coins in order to take care of their panda. The purchase of goods can be interpreted as something negative by reinforcing excessive spending and commercialism; however, parents can be proactive and teach their children the value of money and how to spend it wisely. This is a light, smooth and harmless virtual world.
What is bad
The age range that Pandada is looking for seems to be a bit out of touch with the charts. The character designs may be fine for kids after kindergarten, but kids over the age of nine will find them juvenile. The website is very static with little movement. It would be a great improvement if the animal’s movements could be better choreographed. Users have found issues with the chat pages being mildly offensive. Inappropriate language may be posted unless a moderator detects it and removes it.
Beyond being responsible with money, there is very little educational value associated with this virtual world. The average design and standard approach to creating the virtual world can leave parents scratching their heads as to exactly what they are paying for. This company needs to update the graphics on the website and not try to outbid their demographic.
The website has done a good job of promoting online safety. Personal information is never displayed online. There are two chat modes: safe chat (child clicks on a predetermined chat message) and standard filtered chat (child writes their own message which is moderated). Parents can easily access company security information. Pandada encourages parents to monitor their children’s online experience and have an open discussion with them about online safety.