A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that buried underneath the barrage of product pushes on Procter and Gamble's teen girl hub there is some helpful health information, mostly relating to periods. To post comments, you need to register, which requires an email address and first name. Kids under 13 must submit a parent's email address who'll be notified that their kid has registered, and have the option of deleting the account. The site also encourages -- but doesn't require -- users to submit their home address and a cell number during registration. Although the site warns users that "online friends are really strangers" and not to post personal information, users -- not the site -- are in charge of reporting abuse on boards (which is really easy to do). Words like "crap" are allowed; harsher words like "s--t" are turned into a string of asterisks before comments go live.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
From articles on bloating to a period predictor tool, BEINGGIRL.COM -- with versions for more than 40 countries -- tries to demystify monthly periods and topics like hair removal and health with informative articles. Girls can store their favorites in a \"virtual locker\" and choose an online identity from several images and personality types. Much of the U.S. site, which touches on some adult subjects like STDs, is allegedly written by teen girls, who are encouraged to post comments and recommend articles with a \"Thumbs Up.\"
Is it any good?
It's hard to appreciate the good stuff on this site (fun, informative Q&As, etc.) when most everything comes with a heavy product promotion. Articles are sponsored by items like Always pads, a product helper selects the period product that's "right for you," how-to hairstyling videos use Herbal Essence products, and a "Watch This!" section features commercials. Even the site's "kewl stuff" is product-related; the ManQuarium game, which lets you build a boyfriend and watch him swim, is, for some reason, presented by the Venus Breeze razor. After awhile, the site starts to feel like more of a commercial than actual content. And all that advertising makes some things seem out of place, like the Solo De Chikas section -- a pretty overt attempt to market to Hispanic teens with no explanation of why they're sectioned off separately (and given less content). It's too bad, too, because judging from the posts, girls need more answers for their body-related questions and less product recommendations.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the overload of advertising on this site. Why do you think Procter and Gamble littered the site with ads? Do you think teens respond to a product push that's more direct or a bit more blended into a site's content? Families can also discuss submitting personal information like a cell phone number when registering for a site. Why might it be a bad idea to give personal information to a site -- even one that's run by a legitimate company? Also, what information should be keep private and what's OK to post?