A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this site is built around the animated cartoon lineup shown on The CW television station. Not only does it heavily promote the shows themselves, but it also includes a special video viewing portal called "Toonzai" that lets kids view entire seasons of the cartoon shows they enjoy (including Yu-Gi-Oh, SonicX, MagiNation and Biker Mice from Mars). This means there is hour after hour of possible screen time to be spent here, and some of the shows are chock-full of fantastical cartoon-violence. Parents should be careful which parts of this site children access. For the most part the site is geared toward elementary school-aged kids who would typically be interested in the site's cartoons, although some of the cartoon fare is targeted to younger, kindergarten-aged kids. However, the message forums are designed only for users 13 years and older. Users on here are given strict guidelines for what can be posted, but they don't need to stick to predetermined scripts.
- Parents say
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Is it any good?
There are some great features to 4KIDS TV. Fans of the CW's cartoons can watch full episodes of selected series, there is a library of online games to play, plus unique activities like online scavenger hunts and paper craft instructions. These features won't come as a surprise to regular online users, but they will fill the need for more content that a few hours of weekend programming can't provide. However, the interactive features seem out of place on a kids' TV site. Why would second graders need to discuss the finer points of Yu-Gi-Oh or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? The 13 years and up guideline for this feature seems absurd as adolescents wouldn't seem to be the target demographic. Sites such as Webkinz and Club Penguin offer much safer ways for younger children to interact online and this site would do much better to stick with what it does best: provide off-the-wall games and multimedia content to support its equally irreverent TV programming. For kids who want to catch up on those cartoons they missed on television, the site's "Toonzai" section is the perfect place to visit.
Online interaction: Discussion forums make the online interaction portion of the site rather risky. Although there are moderators and purported "spies" who block users who don't obey the strict guidelines of no bullying or harassment, the forums are posted as being for users 13 and up. This is confusing since most of the cartoons from the site are targeted at younger kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about safe Internet interactions. This site features the ability to create an online social network profile and also participate in discussion forums. What are your house rules about accessing such content? At what age is this type of interaction OK and when is it too young? What are the basic rules for on-line discussions?
Why is it important to be aware of advertising on children's programming? Do you think kids are specifically targeted to buy certain products in a way adults are not?
Families can talk about setting limits on violent kids' shows. What type of sci-fi or cartoon violence is acceptable in your family, and where does your family draw the line? Do you think viewing fantasy violence makes kids more aggressive?
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