Website review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Aplus Website Poster Image
Positive stories are kid-friendly; comments limit the fun.

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about a variety of "human interest" topics. Articles are organized into six categories (Earth, Life, Art, Think, News, and Community), and each article may provide enlightening information on these topics -- or it may simply be entertainment. Kids may find articles that inspire them to action or to research more on a particular topic. With the deluge of attention grabbers, kids can practice wading through the noise to focus on what's really interesting or important for them. And, if kids register, they can practice writing their own articles and learn about what goes into publishing short, high-interest stories on the Web. Aplus brings positive news from the world to kids in a friendly, accessible way.

Positive Messages

Articles intended to convey positive, heartening, inspiring, helpful, or thought-provoking messages. 


Site guidelines prohibit violent content. Nonetheless, there are some mild and/or indirect references to violence.


Site guidelines prohibit sexually explicit, pornographic content. But there are references to sex and sexual innuendo, such as describing an 83-year-old model as "hot" or indicating whether or not an interviewer looks like a virgin. 


Editors monitor, approve all articles; no notable language issues in written pieces. But comments section is open, unmoderated to registered users. Use of words such as "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," and others abounds.


Users can potentially earn money from their submitted content. Some ads on the site, but they aren't overwhelming. Articles often feature embedded YouTube videos; advertisements included.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Site guidelines prohibit posting references to illegal behavior, so theoretically articles showing drug use, underage drinking not allowed. Some indirect references to kids reacting to, saving the day from drunken school bus driver.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Aplus is directed, among others, by Ashton Kutcher, the actor-turned-social-media-entrepreneur. It features short articles about pop culture and "feel good" topics, with captivating headlines, can't-miss graphics, and videos. Aplus' stated mission is to inspire, motivate, highlight social issues or the beauty of our world, encourage personal growth, or just make people smile. Articles don't feature violence, sexual content, foul language, or drug references due to the site guidelines, although there may be allusions to this content or references by users in commentary. Most articles are written by the Aplus on-staff editorial team, though registered users also can submit stories. Submitted stories are reviewed and edited and can potentially bring monetary reimbursement for the author. Each article has a comments section, open to all registered users, and can be shared through all the major social-networking sites. A warning to all: Article headlines are optimized to elicit the most clicks possible. A quick glance at the site can easily turn into a marathon session before you know it. 

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What's it about?

APLUS features articles that focus on positive, inspiring, or fascinating topics with text, images, and videos. Articles are promoted through attention-grabbing headlines of the "you won't believe what happens next" or "this video will change your life forever" kind. Kids can browse, create an account to comment on articles, or even write their own. Submitted articles go through the editorial staff before they're posted. Submitting authors receive payment if their articles get a certain number of clicks from third-party promoter sites.

Is it any good?

Aplus has a great focus on positive, feel-good, and inspirational stories. Articles are best described as "human interest," and though there are some that touch on serious issues, there's also a lot of pure fluff. What kids get out of visiting Aplus has a lot to do with which stories they focus on and what they do to follow up on what they read. For instance, parents can use the articles as discussion starters to help expand on themes that come up.

The system for submitting articles may be appealing for kids interested in writing. There's a very easy template and easy-to-follow instructions for crafting articles. Plus, kids can feel super empowered to see their articles published. Some parents may have issues with the attention-grabbing -- and sometimes purposefully misleading -- headlines model. It can be overwhelming, to say the least. The comments sections are sometimes full of hateful language, so parents might want to help kids avoid these sections. Aplus does a decent job of presenting positive stories to kids, many of which can turn a quick browsing session into hours of viewing entertainment. It's only unfortunate that the comments and misleading headlines bring the site down.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about themes that come up in the articles. What do kids think about each article's message? How does a particular article make them feel?

  • Discuss the site's business model. How does the site make money? How do its users knowingly or unknowingly contribute? 

  • Talk about the attention-grabbing headlines. Are they always an accurate representation of the actual story? How do kids feel to be bombarded with headlines screaming, "Click me!"

Website details

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