Common Sense Media says

Site challenges teens to summarize their lives in six words.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Haiku-style writing fun, creativity, and self-expression are the goals of this storytelling site.

Violence

A few submissions are violent: "I will f--k you up, bitch."

Sex

Nothing worse than "making love."

Language

Teens write the way they speak, and submissions and comments are unregulated. In fact, "f--k" is used so frequently, it's included in the word cloud of terms you can search on. Watch out for "asshole," "bitch" and "s--t," too.

Consumerism

A "Store" link takes teens to the online shop on Smith Magazine, the owner of SMITHTeens. There, they can purchase T-shirts with the site logo and collections of six-word memoirs published by Smith Magazine.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking is mentioned only occasionally. There are probably other references we missed, but kids are more likely to mention cutting or suicidal thoughts.

Privacy & safety

Everything kids submit, including photos of themselves, is out there for the world to see. However, most teens use aliases and the site lets authors edit or delete their own submissions and comments. Parents enjoy some after-the-fact control in being able to contact SMITHTeens if they want a child's submission removed.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this creative writing site is the teen version of respected online indie pub Smith Magazine's Six-Word Memoirs project. Kids will find a largely supportive community of similarly creative teens and a fertile environment in which to exercise their short-form writing skills. The uncensored submissions do contain some offensive language, but overall the content is funny and inspiring. Entering a memoir automatically gives the writer a chance to be in a future SMITHTeens anthology of six-word memoirs.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • storytelling
  • writing

Skills

Creativity

  • brainstorming
  • imagination
  • producing new content

Self-Direction

  • personal growth
  • self-assessment
  • self-reflection

Emotional Development

  • labeling feelings
  • perspective taking
  • self-awareness

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

These little poems are addictive! Teens will find the super-short writing exercises on SMITHTeens entertaining and satisfying. They can keep the tone light and silly or delve into some darker places; it's all good.

Learning Approach

What feels like an amusing diversion actually reinforces all kinds of skills. As kids learn to make every word count, they'll take that economy into English and speech classes. "Getting published" is always empowering as well.

Support

SMITHTeens' concept is pretty simple, so they've got a basic FAQ answering technical questions. The Forums offer a bit more creative support, with user-created writing prompts and official contests.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • storytelling
  • writing

Skills

Creativity

  • brainstorming
  • imagination
  • producing new content

Self-Direction

  • personal growth
  • self-assessment
  • self-reflection

Emotional Development

  • labeling feelings
  • perspective taking
  • self-awareness

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively

Kids can learn to distill their emotions and experiences into six words. It may be a challenge for chatterbox teens, but they'll quickly understand the emotional punch of brevity. SMITHTeens gives kids time to reflect, process those feelings, and then express them with a few words. Kids will also be surprised that a complete story can be told in one sentence, and they'll have fun making it happen. Perusing other entries will confirm they're not alone; memoirs cover a range of topics from first love to suicide. SMITHTeens creates a welcoming, interactive space to capture the fleeting moments and feelings that make up an adolescent life.

This Learning Rating review was written by Polly Conway

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

SMITHTEENS is an online platform for teens age 13-19 to share personal stories in the form of "Six-Word Memoirs." An offshoot of the grown-up site Smith Magazine, originator of this storytelling form, SMITHTeens is a great place for kids to vent about teenage ups and downs. Their brief contributions are organized by tag and published immediately onto the site. Kids can write as many memoirs as they like; SMITHTeens also contains forums with idea prompts and discussions.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Anyone who thinks today's teens can't write is in for a pleasant surprise at SMITHTeens, a storytelling site that tasks kids with the seemingly impossible: summarize your life in six words. Kids rise to the occasion with gems like "I never take my own advice," one of more than 50,000 entries currently posted. As easy to use as it is addictive, SMITHTeens lets kids enter as many "memoirs" as they like along with a profile photo and comment on each other's work. According to creator Larry Smith some members use SMITHTeens as a daily journal.

Like the submissions themselves, comments are largely unregulated. However, teens are mostly supportive of each other’s creative efforts, and when kids use submissions to express suicidal or other depressed thoughts, their peers try to comfort them. A technical beef: the pages aren't numbered, but organized as "Newer Posts/Older Posts." The latter means you can't tell how many more entries there are to read before you're done with, say, all the submissions on "love." But these navigation problems are easy to overlook in an otherwise terrific site for aspiring young writers.

Families can talk about...

  • Which six words would your teen use to describe his or her life?

  • Discuss what your teen might gain from participating in a writing project like SMITHTeens. Families can talk about whether creative  expression is enhanced or harmed by profanity, the challenge of writing to length, and the introspection that a memoir of any length requires. Read our tips on creating with digital media.

Website details

Genre:Creating
Pricing structure:Free

This review of SMITHTeens was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 12 year old Written bygadgetman49 July 20, 2009
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

May be good for older teens.. no observed security

We're not sure whether to continue letting our daughter use this site (she will be 13 next month). It is a way for some parents to find out issues in their kid's lives, since they often use it for communicating like a social network. However, I don't find any age limitation for Registration, and I see no way to secure the child's threads so that only friends and family can see and respond to postings. A friend of hers was contacted yesterday by an unknown person, who the friend described as "creepy" and displayed the opportunity for inappropriate communications to exist. Not sure, at this point..............

What other families should know
Safety and privacy concerns
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 15 years old Written bySmithtenner January 13, 2010
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

Smithteener

Honestly, I think this site is amazing. I have my own user account. I think it should be used for only teens who know the limit on what content to put, like no full names or stuff like that. But it helps me express my feeling and I get other inputs and other teens relate with me. I think its awesome! :)

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Kid, 12 years old Written bybobcomics August 13, 2009
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

teens only

it seems kinda bad with all the cussing but other than that...

What other families should know
Too much swearing

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