The latest craze that's hitting the elementary crowd is Webkinz. They're stuffed animals with a special code attached to each individual Webkinz, ensuring that each and every Webkinz animal has a different personality. The owner of the Webkinz goes to the Webkinz site to adopt the animal and from there they can play games, interact with other users and even make Kinzcash. The Kinzcash can then be spent at various shops like the W Shop or the Curio Shop, and places like the Newspaper or the Clinic. Your Webkinz can get sick, feel hunger or get a job.
There has been some controversy surrounding the Webkinz craze as children as young as 5 are getting hooked on spending time with their adoptee and the computer. The chat function on the Webkinz site initially inspired some concerns but enough safety precautions have been taken (only pre-set messages can be sent, messages can only be sent to people on a friends-list) to appease most parents. For the web savvy out there, it's easy to see the connection with sites like Second Life or Cyworld. Webkinz is building the next generation of users one plush animal at a time.
Note: The Webkinz does not actually 'do' anything, i.e. it doesn't have any animatronic capabilities.