Are.na

App review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Are.na App Poster Image
Minimalist content-curation meant for older kids, adults.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Teens can curate and browse a wide range of content. If used thoughtfully, it could also serve as a study tool or resource pool for group projects.

Ease of Play

Minimalist interface is mostly intuitive.

Violence

App has no violence; user-generated content can contain violent images and references to violence.

Sex

App has no sex; user-generated content can contain sexual images, nudity, and references to sex.

Language

App has no iffy language; user-generated content can contain words like "f--k" and "s--t."

Consumerism

Users can join for free or pay $5 a month for premium membership.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

App has no drinking, drugs, or smoking; user-generated content can contain images of and references to these.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Are.na is a social networking app for teens designed for collaboration and curation. The developers indicate that it's for users 17 and up, though it could likely be appropriate for slightly younger teens as well. User-generated content can contain words like "f--k" and "s--t" as well as images of and references to sex, drugs, alcohol, smoking, and violence. Users can create private, invitation-only collections and share their collections via ZIP file, PDF, and HTML formats. Premium membership costs $5 a month (half that for students and educators) and buys users unlimited posts ("blocks" in the app's lingo), priority support, and privacy from search engines. The app's default setting allows the app to send newsletters to users' email (email is required for registration), and, upon users logging in, the app encourages them to invest in the company that makes it. Read the privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

ARE.NA is a social media, content-creation, and content-curating app in the vein of Pinterest; users can curate and share collections (called channels) of imagery, text, and links to online information. Though there's no "like" functionality, users can comment on one another's channels and connect their channels to those created by other users. Users can designate their channels as Open (anyone can view or contribute), Closed (anyone can view but not post), and Private (only invited users can view and post). Also, users can create profiles with photos and descriptions that reveal private information; they can also follow one another, start private channels with individual users, create groups, and add and remove users from groups at will.

Is it any good?

While this app does reach its goal for users to "focus their thinking without likes, distractions, or ads," it also lacks some features that would make it more accessible and fun. While removing "likes" does take away the potentially problematic feedback loops in other social media, there's so little interaction within comments that it feels much less social. Are.na's minimal presentation doesn't do much for the fun factor either. Its lack of color and graphics make it less accessible to the mainstream public and more like a tool for graduate students wanting to catalog scholarly research. Its search and explore functions work well enough, but again, the frequent lack of identifying graphics make channels appear very stark and sterile. Still, for older kids, it's a good way to collect and share images, text, and links, not to mention its possible use as a study tool. Ultimately it's unsuitable for young kids, but serious-minded older kids could enjoy exploring and adding to its impressive collection of thought-provoking information.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about social media apps like Are.na. What are your rules around adding people as friends and posting?

  • Think about what you post online. By posting, are you contributing something positive or negative to the world?

  • Discuss sharing information. Can you think of situations where sharing information is useful?

App details

For kids who love social networking and homework help

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