Guest blogger Christine: Having been an aunt since the age of nine, I've been through two decades of playthings with my 15 nieces and nephews. From Care Bears to Pound Puppies, Beanie Babies to Build-a-Bear -- eventually the latest trends of faux pets stopped surprising me. That is until Ian, my four-year-old nephew, informed me of his new pet that required feeding, cleaning and would sometimes walk away when he wanted to play fetch.
With visions of pet hair and plastic-bagged poo flashing, I asked where he'd gotten his new friend, secretly worried for the misguided relative who'd brought a noisy living creature into the home of the sister who'd banned loud toys. Ian informed me a fellow classmate had told him where to get his new favorite pet. On Facebook.
Two little preschoolers discussing Facebook apps over Legos.
And I thought accepting my 70-plus dad as a Facebook friend was surprising.
After shaking off the shock, I agreed to create my own little virtual kitty so Ian's pet would have a friend to play with. Then I made him give the phone to my sister -- I needed a little reassurance that Ian wasn't being let loose on a site where you can send friends digital drinks and virtually "poke" your family members. After all I didn't want' him virtually b!*$% slapping Grandpa.
So our virtual pets play together, and on tough days, the gift of a virtual strawberry from a four-year-old is just the pick-me-up I need.