The Poptropica virtual world for kids, created by Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, to promote storytelling with islands based on books like the Magic Tree House (Red Dragon Island) and Choose Your Own Adventure (Nabooti Island), added a social networking component earlier this week. Within the first 12 hours, more than 500,000 kids friended other Poptropica players. “And this happened in complete safety,” said Poptropica publisher Jess M. Brallier. “Not one piece of personal information was shared.”

Through the Friends feature, kids from different countries and traditions can connect and find out which of the 26 islands on Poptropica, one of Time magazine’s Top 50 Web sites of 2011, other players have solved. Although personal information is protected, they can share what country they’re from and tidbits about their personality. Soon they’ll be able to discuss a second Wimpy Kid Island, which will launch later this year.