Thanks to the popularity of virtual pet games, there is a very wide assortment of great sites to choose from. However, not all of them are created equal, and not all of them are appropriate as educational tools.
Educational Virtual Pet Games
In this article, we'll explore some of the best virtual pet games online that use elements that teach kids about things like responsibility, organization, math and memory. Of course, on top of that, all of these virtual pet games are also a lot of fun too.
Petnebula is a game that is modeled off of the popularity of Neopets and the sort of "out of this world" character play that Neopets kicked off years ago.
Petnebula is a free virtual pet site created around the concept of alien pets from other worlds. The site tagline is "The Planetary Playground", and the tagline describes the site well.
It is basically an online playground where kids can create alien-like virtual pets that they need to care for. By "working on" the virtual pet, kids earn account upgrades and can unlock even more virtual pets, shops and features on the site.
PetNebula Main Page
Petnebula uses the same concept that most of these sites do - that is the idea of encouraging positive behavior through rewards. When kids do the right thing and care for their pets appropriately, they're rewarded with cool features and access to areas of the site that all of their friends may already have access to.
Subeta is also a popular style of online communities for kids these days, where members can create human avatars to represent themselves online. This avoids the problem many parents have with kids posting actual pictures on the Internet, but it also give kids the opportunity to safely interact with friends on this online virtual pet community.
Playing at Subeta
After creating the human avatar, kids can then adopt a virtual pet and take care of it. The wonderful thing about Subeta is that it encourages cooperation between players, which in turn teaches kids that cooperation brings about greater results than doing things alone.
Pet adoptables is a site that is focused on more realistic pets - not so much the alien style the sites above focus on. This game is all about collecting eggs, and each egg is of course a "hatchable virtual pet".
The idea of the game is to buy or trade eggs. Then, when kids want their collected eggs to hatch, they need to "give it attention", and the watch the newborn virtual pet come out of the shell.
Pet Adoptables Collecting Site
The site is not only about collecting eggs, but also activities that include mining ores and crystals, collecting fish, and playing other games. It's clear that the goal of this virtual pet site is to teach kids about the value of working hard to save things, and the importance of saving overall.
Are you a dog lover? Maybe you'd like to install that love of dogs into your children as well? Send them over to VirtualPups, where kids can learn all about breeding, training and competing with different dog breeds.
Teach Kids About Dog Breeding
What's impressive about this site is that it isn't just about feeding and watering a virtual pet. It teaches kids about dog genetics, about how to properly train and exercise dogs, and how to understand the strengths of different breeds of dogs when entering competitions.
Another site that has the sort of virtual pets you'd never see in real life is Verpets.
Verpets is a very popular community of kids of all ages. While it does include the need to care for a pet, the focus of this site is probably less educational than most others, so keep that in mind when you decide whether or not to include it in your classroom.
The focus of this site is to take part in a "battle" where pets gain experience points, and the winner takes the total of wagers that all participants contributed at the start of the challenge.
Verpets Main Page
Verpets isn't for everyone. Some parents don't like the idea that the community focuses on competition, friends and enemies, and violence. However, other parents really like the fact that it is such a large and welcoming community that encourages hard work and competition.
One site that is great for younger kids - and a very cute site to boot - is Power Pets. At power pets, kids focus on caring for and raising a wide variety of pets that they've adopted and raised.
Raising Power Pets
There are a wide variety of pets at Power Pets that kids have to choose from, including Minis - smaller animals that play with your pets - and even an aquarium that kids can decorate and fill with fish!
Another very cute virtual pet adoption site that's great for the younger children is Adopt Me. This site is focused on very real animals, not alien or fictional types, so kids can pretend that they are raising an actual animal.
Adopt Me Main Page
Since the site allows kids to adopt a pet before registering, they can actually give the site a try to see if they like it. With all of the pet adoption sites out there, this is a great feature. It also lets parents see if the site is right for their kids.
Another site created in the Neopets theme is Rescreatu. Rescreatu is a very popular virtual pet game site that is also focused on starting out with the collection of pet eggs. In this game, kids will hunt for eggs across four planets and then hatch those eggs into virtual pets.
Rescreatu Virtual Pet Worlds
This is a great site for older kids that might have outgrown the "cute" type sites they loved so much as children, but still want to raise their own cool online creatures. It is a great growing community with fun games and lots of activities.
FooPets is probably one of the most realistic virtual pet sites on the Internet. The quality of the virtual pet - complete with very life-like movements and actions - makes this one of the best virtual pet sites online.
FooPets Main Page
FooPets isn't so much a community as it is almost entirely focused on caring for and raising your very lifelike online pet. Watch as your puppy plays with toys, drinks water or eats food, or even tries to get your attention with its adorable antics. If your child wants its own real-life puppy, sign him or her up for a FooPet and see how well they do with caring for the virtual pet every day. This can be the first test toward getting their own real life pet.
Another great site for dog lovers is Dog Dayzz. Dog Dayzz is another virtual pet site that's focused on the world of dog breeding.
Dog Dayzz Virtual Online Dogs
On Dog Dayzz, kids will experience what it's like to take care of and train a dog. The site includes actual registered dog breeds, and kids can even create mixed-breed virtual dogs. After training, kids can then enter their dog into competitions. It's one of the better Dog Sim games on the Internet today.
As you can see, there are lots of virtual pet game sites out there that teach kids not only the responsibilities that come with caring for something that depends on your attention every day, but many of the sites actually teach kids about real-life animals, preparing them to be caring and responsible pet owners in the future.