Modern technology gives us many things.

Happy 6th Birthday to popular kids site Club Penguin

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Any parent knows trying to protect their children online is a difficult task to make sure they don’t stumble on to sites and material they shouldn’t.

Well one site exists where children can play and explore and even make new friends all within a safely moderated environment.

It’s called Club Penguin and it’s six years old today. It was the brainchild of a pair of Canadian parents who had an idea to create a social network just for kids.  

Lance Priebe and Lane Merrifield, who had children of their own, were co-workers at New Horizon Interactive and were interested in building a site that was safe for children and so Club Penguin was born.

Two years later the site had around four million members and came to the attention of Disney which bought the site for $350m with the promise of an additional $350m if membership targets were met by 2009.

Club Penguin opened offices in the UK and here in Australia in 2008.

Australia has one of the highest Club Penguin memberships on average and continues to be one of world’s most avid users of the site.

Club Pengun is a safe site for children to play and interact with friends

The children who join the site can choose their penguin identity and navigate the fun virtual world and play games, chat to other penguins and engage in fun activities.

There are also special features, games and virtual goods which can be obtained in Club Penguin for a small membership fee per month.

This opens up unlimited access to everything within Club Penguin, more games, access to themed events and unique activities.

This membership also provides other special features and priority server access for a faster and smoother online experience.

Monthly fees are $6.95 or $34.95 for six months and $64.95 for 12 months membership.

There are lots of activities and games to play plus lots of clothes and items to buy for your penguin

Members can play all the mini games, buy clothing and other items for their penguin and even choose your own background music and customisable igloos and homes.

Children can earn coins by completing activities and playing games and then use those coins to buy clothes, costumes, glasses and other items.

But the memberships fees Club Penguin charges also provides the funding to keep the site absolutely ad free.

This way there is no way a child will click on ads and navigate away from the safety of the site.

Club Penguin staff spend the bulk of their time moderating the chats between children on the site to ensure there is no inappropriate language being used or risqué subjects being discussed.

There is a sunrise to sunset team on the site with moderation of the site passed between the US team then on to the Australian team and finally the UK team before another day begins and the US take up the baton once more.

So no matter what time of the day or night, a child is on the site there is always supervision and moderators online as well.

Content on the site is always being refreshed on the site with artists constantly creating events and special activities.

Some of the ideas, games and activities are actually a result of feedback from the members. The belief is to deliver the experience children want online.

One of those ideas was to celebrate Halloween on Club Penguin. Now it is a regular event on the island and, presently, it is being prepared for this year’s Halloween celebrations with penguins able to dress up costumes.

Club Penguin illustrator Adam Semeniuk with fans of the site at Melbourne Aquarium during a school holiday workshop

There are also parental controls so you can control the length of your child’s stay on the site and be sure they have a healthy balance.

Club Penguin also organises offline activities for its members. A recent example was an alliance with Melbourne Aquarium which has a real life penguin enclosure – one of the largest in the world.

There was even one of the site’s illustrators entertaining the children and teaching them how to draw their very own penguins.

More recently Club Penguin has expanded into the app world with the launch of Puffle Launch  for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices.

Puffles are the fluffy pets penguins can adopt on the site and now players can guide through 24 exciting levels and collect objects and solve puzzles.

Happy Birthday Club Penguin.

www.clubpenguin.com