Andrew alerted me to this article today on a site called Trend Central. It discusses the rising popularity of social networking sites for "tweens," which apparently stretches all the way back to six-year-olds, an age I foolishly thought to be firmly in the "kid" category. As usual, kids can create "avatars," "chat" with each other, "rate" each other's thoughts and contributions, and, of course, "buy" things with fake money--which you have to pay REAL money to be able to "redeem."
It's a total scam, and an outrageous assault on childhood. It's also, unfortunately, a trend. Rise up, people! It's only a trend if we allow it to be! Until its unprofitable for companies to develop these sites, things are just going to get worse!
Rile yourself up by reading the article here: http://www.trendcentral.com/WebApps/App/SnapShots/Article.aspx?ArticleId=7366