Generally, there are 3 kinds of virtual pets: downloadable (download the software and play games on your computer), straight online virtual pets and “dual pets”, which are actually plush animals, which can also be looked after online by keying in a unique code that accompanies the toy at virtual pet adoption sites.
Downloadable virtual pets are a great source of entertainment, and you need not be online at cyber pet adoption sites – once the software is downloaded. The problem with this option is that unless a reputed site provides the software, you are facing the danger of downloading a virus along with the game – which can be quite bad! (If you visit one of the free download sites, there can even be a warning note at the top or bottom of the webpage regarding it.)
Virtual pets at VPA sites are played straight online, without having to download the software for playing. Generally this means taking a registered membership with the cyber pet adoption site so as to own the pet. This is a good option, but if the virtual pet adoption site is not secured you again run the risk of running into a virus that can actually spoil your computer.
So for both the above alternatives, ensure you have installed latest version of a good virus protection for your computer!
The last kind of online pet (“dual pets”) is the best solution. They’re quite cheap (about $10 – $15 for each new pet) and actually worth the price paid. These pets are real, meaning they are luxurious stuffed animals with which children can play like other kinds of toys, but they come with a code printed on a card provided along with them that gives access to virtual pet adoption websites letting the child feed, clothe, provide medication and design homes for their pets. In this VPA online game, the cyber pet adoption sites are very secure (thus eliminating the risk of unknowingly adopting a virus as well as the pet). Besides there are various other activities that are available on the virtual pet adoption sites like educational games, chat rooms (safe) and other entertainment for young ones.