Nickelodeon to launch virtual world and social network in UK
Nickelodeon is readying itself for a major push into social networking for children in the UK.
The children's TV channel, owner of nick.co.uk, is preparing to roll out Nicktropolis, its version of virtual world Second Life, in Britain.
It's also preparing to launch a separate social network that will be tailored towards children's needs.
The strategy has emerged following the publication of a report commissioned by Nickelodeon and MTV into the internet habits of 18,000 8-14-year-olds around the world.
Among the headline findings were that UK children are more frequent users of social networks than those in other developed nations, such as Japan and Germany. Some 26% of UK kids use them over three times a week.
The research also found UK social networkers have larger friend networks than those in any other country - 117 on average.
Andy Goodhead, VP of planning and presentation at Nickelodeon, said it's with these findings in mind that it's launching the virtual world, which will compete with a CBBC version currently being planned.
"We'll be looking at launching Nicktropolis in this country," he said. "It's exciting because it has been so successful in the US.
"But there are perils. For children, social networking isn't about making new friends, it's about existing friends. It's the playground brought into the home, which is something we understand," Goodhead added.
"Also, next year we'll be launching a new show with user-generated content for kids. This will be interesting as they're not great at creating it but they love to watch it. For them to create it you need to give them the parameters, and this is what we'll be trying to do."
Goodhead said that the advancement of the internet would sound the death knell for red-button technology.
"We still use it at the moment but feel that it doesn't have a future," he said. "We'll be looking to online for the future."
The domain name www.nicktropolis.co.uk currently redirects to the official Nick Jr. Channel website.