Digital doggie doo-doo

When she reaches adulthood, my 10-year-old daughter may become that crazy woman across the street who has over 50 pets in her house and gets regular visits from the local board of health. My worst nightmare is that she winds up like a Russian woman in a YouTube clip that features over 100 cats in her house.

Our real (not virtual) beagle

Our real (not virtual) beagle

My daughter doesn’t collect real pets, though. She collects artificial human companions (I’ll resist the temptation to type dogz or catz when I refer to these petz). Since she now has a physical dog, a beagle named Jackson that we adopted from a local animal shelter, along with her virtual pets, she seemed like an ideal subject for an in-depth interview.

I’ve watched and listened to her play with some of her virtual pets, but until the interview I didn’t realize how many she owned. She tells me you can have up to four virtual pets for each Neopets account. Add in several Webkinz pets and she seems destined to be featured in her own YouTube clip someday. I was especially thankful our family doesn’t live in China. If virtual police on cyber-patrols monitor Internet usage, will it be long before a virtual health board monitors online pet ownership?

After explaining to me that you can feed, groom and play with virtual pets, she acknowledged that she mostly just feeds her digital dogs and cats so they won’t die. She did say that if you want to, “you can play games and stuff and shop” or invite friends who also have Webkinz to come over and play in your virtual house.

As the interview progressed, I began to feel better. She said that even though Jackson can be a bit more annoying than her virtual pets, he’s everyone’s favorite member of the family. She also acknowledged that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if one of her virtual pets died “because it’s not an actual living thing.” I breathed a sigh of relief as it became clear that Jackson’s place in the annual family Christmas photos won’t be replaced by a virtual cat, especially since I’m allergic to cats (and maybe catz, too).

THE VERDICT: UNPLUG, and definitely do not spend real money on virtual toys for your virtual pets.

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~ by bakerumedia on September 14, 2008.

One Response to “Digital doggie doo-doo”

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