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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2007, 12:29 GMT
NSPCC books in to virtual hotel
Screen grab of Habbo Hotel
Thousands of teenagers visit Habbo Hotel
Children's charity The NSPCC is to set up home in a virtual hotel.

It hopes that its three-month stay in Habbo Hotel - a virtual community for children - will allow it to reach out to a new audience.

The charity will host events and activities on the website aimed at getting young people involved in its anti-bullying campaign.

Other organisations - such as the anti-drugs charity Frank also have a presence in Habbo.

Celebrity ambassadors

Habbo Hotel has particular appeal to teenagers and was one of the first virtual communities when it began in 2000 in Finland. It pre-dates other virtual worlds such as Second Life and social networking sites such as MySpace and Bebo.

In the Habbo Hotel users create avatars (or Habbos), buy furniture to furnish their own rooms in the hotel and talk to others in the community via instant message.

Habbo Hotel UK now attracts 750,000 unique users each month, aged 11-18. There are localised Habbo communities in 29 countries. The company behind Habbo said that as of December 2006 more than 66 million Habbos have been created around the world.

"It is imperative that we talk to teenagers in their own environment, much of which is online," said Emily Knee, NSPCC's digital project manager.

She hopes the partnership with Habbo will drive traffic to the NSPCC website, as well as encouraging users to take part in polls and design an anti-bullying themed room.

A previous awareness campaign called "Don't Hide It" was seen by more than 13,897,991 Habbo residents.

"The children engaged with our presence, took part in discussions and sent us plenty of positive messages," said Ms Knee.

In May, the charity plans to visit the hotel again to highlight its campaign against child abuse.

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