MiniMonos is a virtual world for kids, built around core values of sustainability, generosity, community and fun. Using monkey avatars, children play games and socialize this fully-moderated online world.
Founded by entrepreneur, Climate Project Ambassador, and mother Melissa Clark-Reynolds, MiniMonos now has 60,000 registered members worldwide.
“We wanted to create a world so that children could have a place of their own, a place that allows them to explore and grow without constant pressure to buy stuff,” says Ms Clark-Reynolds. “We also wanted them to have a place that embodies core values like sustainability and generosity, without turning those values into a boring lecture.”
MiniMonos manages to be green without laboring the point. Normalizing socially-responsible behavior, rather than being “preachy” or explicitly educational. Children soon grasp that if they don’t play the recycling game often enough, the rubbish starts to pile up at their tree-houses. They get the connection between cleaning the lagoon in the Swim game and seeing new species of fish appear. They realize that if they don’t collect enough clouds in the Flight game the wind turbine for their tree-house grinds to a halt.
The focus is on fun, but the sustainability message is clearly there.
Since its launch in 2009, MiniMonos (‘little monkeys’ in Spanish) has tied virtual behavior to real-world results, using proceeds from Gold memberships and iPhone app sales to supply clean water for children in India and to adopt orangutans.
“We know kids are capable of far more than playing online games and buying stuffed animals. We hope to find out just how much more by growing the community of good green kids around MiniMonos dedicated to having fun and contributing to a sustainable world,” says Ms Clark-Reynolds.
The combination of fun and values has proven incredibly popular, with many of the MiniMonos kids taking the green concepts from MiniMonos and carrying them through with real-world actions. Some kids were inspired to clean up their local beach, picking up over 1,800 cigarette butts. They’re regularly involved in Earth Hour and Green Halloween, and some have even adopted baby orangutans themselves.
MiniMonos has recently announced a partnership with WWF-New Zealand to support the WWF Tiger Network Initiative.
“Most children know about endangered animals, and care deeply about them. At MiniMonos we’ve learned that education is a great first step; then it’s important to provide actions, in order to make a real difference,” says Ms Clark-Reynolds.