Disney has unveiled a new feature for its recently launched (and still beta) Disney Xtreme Digital (a.k.a. Disney XD) service, tapping into the ever-popular social networking buzz by enabling preteens to create their own Web pages. Disney XD is aimed at broadband-enabled preteens and kids aged 14 and under; unlike famously freewheeling sites like MySpace, parents can have control over childrens’ online activities on the site, and the company hopes to keep kids’ Disney XD pages clean by limiting kids to using Disney-supplied content on their pages.
Disney unveiled the new home page feature at a New York City event featuring current teen heartthrob Corbin Bleu, star of the popular Disney properties High School Musical and Jump In. The site also features Bleu-themed games, and Bleu’s new Disney album debuted on Disney XD.
The new home page feature enables kids to pull together media, music, videos, and games from within the Disney XD site and assemble them into a custom page, which they can also dress up with Disney-supplied graphics and character elements.
Since its launch earlier this year, Disney XD has been ramping up its interactive offerings. Members are encouraged to play games, view video, and participate in interactive elements which earn members points; these points can be used to purchase items for use on the site, including animated contraptions and "stickers" for use on kids’ personal home pages.
As part of the company’s efforts to keep the site safe for children—and prevent kids from revealing personal information or using profanity—an interactive chat feature was limited to trading pre-written messages and phrase. Now, with parental approval, kids can go beyond the stock messages and use chat features interactively.
Disney XD has been criticized for its heavy promotion of Disney properties and marketing messages: within the Disney XD site, it’s almost impossible to separate site functionality and features from Disney branding and marketing messages. In launching the new home page feature, Disney executive VP and managing director of Disney Online told Reuters in an interview: "I want tons of kids immersed in my brands and franchises. What better marketer do I have than a kid?"
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