In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 23, 2007 / 13 Kislev, 5768

A world mom hoped to avoid

By Marybeth Hicks

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I'm thinking my daughter pulled a fast one on me. Somehow, she created the perfect storm of sympathy and opportunity to get around my house rule against Webkinz.

How do I know I've been had?

In a stunning coincidence — if not a profound twist of fate — all five guests at Amy's sleepover birthday party last weekend happened to proffer gifts of Webkinz stuffed animals, the cute, furry pals who come complete with a secret code to access the online Webkinz World community.

At www.webkinz.com, children create an identity for their plush toys who virtually "come to life," inhabiting a home that is furnished and decorated by their owners. Children also feed and care for their pets (virtually, of course) in an effort to keep them healthy and happy. There's more, but let's get back to the birthday party.

One after the other, Amy opened her birthday presents with wide-eyed glee. "A Webkinz! I can't believe it." Then, "Another Webkinz! Wow!" Then, "Oh my gosh this is amazing. Another Webkinz." And again. And again.

Incredibly, all five were different — no repeats — leading me to believe Amy not only "suggested" to her friends that they give her the plush toys, but perhaps she even specified which animal each girl should bring.

OK, that's a little cynical. I'm just saying.

For a ten-year-old to receive Webkinz for her birthday isn't remarkable. Near as I can figure, Amy is the only girl in the Western world who didn't already have one (or more likely, a collection).

What's noteworthy is that I don't — or didn't — allow Webkinz. I don't want to sound an alarm, but I actually believe Webkinz will turn out to be one of the principal factors in the ultimate dismantling of civilization as we know it.

OK, maybe I do want to sound an alarm.

The whole point of Webkinz is to drive their owners to the internet to develop two lifelong habits of behavior: online social networking and online shopping.

Apparently, it won't do to wait until the next generation reaches middle school to indoctrinate adolescents into the world of internet life. Webkinz reaches down to kindergarten (or younger) to snag new consumers and train them up in the way they should go (to spend money and join chat rooms).

Perhaps you're confused, since I didn't really convey Webkinz World as a dangerous internet site. It may seem safe enough, but it's dangerous precisely because it's insidious.

When a new user signs onto Webkinz and "adopts" her new pet, she automatically gets $2000 in Kinzcash. This is the currency that allows her to shop till she drops for new pet sweaters, designer pet beds and chocolate covered kibble. (I made that last thing up — I have no idea if there is chocolate kibble bit I wouldn't be surprised).

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The games in Webkinz World all are intended to build your balance of Kinzcash. The site's frequently asked questions even have rules against the corrupt collecting of Kinzcash because sadly, little children must be using their advanced computer skills to beat the Webkinz World bank.

Worse than the shopping jones you can develop as a child, Webkinz World offers a "Clubhouse" where children may use the "acclaimed" KinzChat System to communicate online with friends. KinzChat lets children send pre-constructed messages from chat menus, and in this "safe" zone, children don't need permission to participate. KinzChat Plus is a bit more freewheeling — children can send personal messages, though only using words and phrases contained in the Webkinz dictionary (which exludes numbers, proper names and mean words such as "punch.")

With five new Webkinz in her possession, Amy may think she got around my objections to this "multi-media" toy. After all, she accurately predicted I wouldn't be so heartless as to confiscate her birthday gifts. (Even a committed culture warrior draws the line at birthday presents).

But I'm not giving up the fight.

Instead, while we're going along with some limited access to Webkinz World, we're going in with a critical and watchful eye. Amy's going to have to learn some media literacy — such as how to discern when she's being manipulated — and if playing in Webkinz World ultimately promotes attitudes and behaviors in our daughter we don't like, they'll be a price to pay.

And we don't accept KinzCash.

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"The Perfect World Inside My Minivan -- One mom's journey through the streets of suburbia"  

Marybeth Hicks offers readers common-sense wisdom in dealing with today's culture. Her anecdotes of her husband and four children tap into universal themes that every parent can relate to and appreciate. -- Wesley Pruden, Editor-in-Chief, The Washington Times
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JWR contributor Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 20 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. To comment, please click here.


© 2007, Marybeth Hicks