There are two ways for kids to enjoy Club Penguin. Joining the site, picking and modifying your penguin avatar and moving around Club Penguin's virtual world is completely free. Anyone can create a penguin with a free account, and the steps are relatively easy compared to most online membership signup pages. After picking a color for your penguin, you're simply instructed to enter a Club Penguin username, a password and a parent's e-mail address. The site doesn't ask for any personal information beyond the e-mail; no names, addresses, phone numbers or birthdates.
So is that it to a Club Penguin membership? Well, not quite. A free account isn't technically a membership. The free account allows your penguin to walk (or waddle, if you will) around its virtual world while exploring places like icebergs, ski slopes, boats and beaches, play games and chat with other penguins. However, to do all the really cool stuff, like decorating your igloo and dressing up your penguin, parents need to buy their kids a membership.
There are three basic membership prices: $5.95 per month, $29.95 for six months or $57.95 for a full year. Occasionally, there are special promotional offers, like $14.95 for three months, but these offers are generally only available for a limited time.
When a penguin is decorating his or her igloo, it actually has a lot of choices -- especially since new features are added weekly or monthly. For instance, the icy homes can upgrade to two stories or morph into a snow globe design, and interiors can include drum sets, televisions, aquariums and more.
One thing parents should note is that if they do decide to purchase a membership for their children, it's most likely the company will collect the parent's full name, e-mail address and, of course, credit card information and mailing address. Of course, none of this information would make it over the Web site's chat function, which filters important personal information anyway.
So once kids are on Club Penguin, what can they do?