My Lego Network – Parent Review

My Lego NetworkMy Lego Network has been around for a few years but seems to have slipped below the radar a little, which is a shame because it has potential to be a great little online “blog” that kids can create and share with their friends and family.

My Lego Network

Lego has such a rich online presence that sometimes it is hard to see what is available beyond their shop and product guide.

From downloads, games, videos and movies to their comic creator and more, it’s hard to get the big picture of everything kids can access.

I know I have often been surprised by the presence of a Lego feature that I never knew about before and one of these is My Lego Network.

In a nutshell My Lego Network is an online micro blogging system catering for kids, specifically young Lego fans. It has been around since 2008 and though it didn’t take off as Lego might have hoped the Network provides a safe place for younger kids to have the interactive and social experience of the Internet in a safe and familiar environment.

How does it work?

Essentially, once a Lego account is created in a child’s name, you can help them set up a Lego “blog” in a controlled and monitored environment where no interaction is made with the rest of the web unless it is done so in a heavily moderated way.

Once a page is created, kids can Create Pages, Make Models and Share everything with new friends on the Lego Network or beyond. By forwarding a link to their homepage to friends and family, they can share uploaded images of new creations with others, no matter where they live or whether or not they are on My Lego Network themselves.

Creativity and Interactivity is also explored when kids decorate and customize their “homepage” and interact with other members of the Lego Network with pre-written email messages designed for use within the system.

Lego MLN Make Collect Create

By playing Lego Games and solving puzzles on the other areas of Lego.com kids earn badges which they can then collect or swap to increase their rank, filling their “blog” pages with cooler stickers, models, music snippets, icons and more.

I imagine this is a huge “make it or break it” factor for many parents – to make the most of the system kids need to spend time playing Lego online games or navigating the Lego website to receive rewards.

I wasn’t particularly comfortable with this “search for rewards” aspect of the site, but I can imagine I might be in the minority 🙂

I am also very comfortable in setting up webpages for people so my kids are able to display and share their creations on their own (moderated) blogs. Not all parents are in this position so My Lego Network offers a viable alternative.

Interestingly, kids can also keep track of stats for their pages (how many people visit, etc), a practical and educational skill that will serve the webmasters of tomorrow very well 🙂

Echo

Fishpond 604x90

Echo-My-Lego-NetworkTo help kids navigate the potentially confusing initial set up process, Lego have designed a virtual robot called Echo. Echo is the first “Friend” in your Network as well.

Echo appears at the start of the design process to introduce kids to the blog and then can be called upon at later stages if help is needed.

Add Photos or LDD Designs

The ability to add photos of your own Lego creations as well as Lego Digital Designer files is a wonderful feature of My Lego Network, however the process of actually adding the images is a little confusing the first time round (at least it was for me!).

The short answer is that you don’t add photos directly through My Lego Network, but instead, use one of Lego’s other image galleries.

Here is the official guide to this process:

“You have two options – either you can take a photo of one of your LEGO creations and upload this to one of the many galleries on LEGO.com (BIONICLE, Creator, etc.) or you can download LEGO Digital Designer and build your very own 3D model and upload this to a gallery.

When you have uploaded your photo or model to a gallery, LEGO needs to approve it, before it gets visible and you can use it in My LEGO Network.

Once you have your model or photo approved, you can go to your Page Builder and choose a Gallery or Factory Module by dragging it to your page. Here you can drag it as you would in the Sticker Module. Hit Save on the Module, Save on the page – and presto!”

As I said, it isn’t straight forward but once you know how, it makes sense.

FAQ

There are a number of steep learning curves in setting up the blog. Thankfully there is an extensive FAQ and help section, along with the presence of Echo who relays advice to you using video screens and also offers short tips for accessing more badges.

The FAQ section is here and I would recommend parents go through this first before starting to create a page with their kids, just so they have an idea of how the whole thing works. It will make the setup process flow much more smoothly.

Lego have also made a Parents FAQ page to assuage any understandable fears parents may have about My Lego Network.

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