A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the Born This Way Foundation site offers optimistic information that can help kids feel and treat each other better. Kids are encouraged to take steps on their own to try to spread kindness, make school and other environments more positive, and access resources to get help if they're suffering from emotional issues. The comments users post are overwhelmingly supportive -- kids won't be exposed to negative banter -- and there's no inappropriate content. Some parents may not want kids posting comments, since they need to do it through Facebook and would, in the process, share their identity with other people who check the foundation's site or Facebook page; but posting really isn't a frequent activity on the site, so kids shouldn't feel a strong pressure to voice their thoughts on posts.
What's it about?
The website for the BORN THIS WAY FOUNDATION, launched in 2012 by Lady Gaga and her mother to support young people's wellness, encourages kindness, a positive school climate, and mental wellness. It also includes content from partnerships with companies like Facebook. A youth advisory board advises the foundation on issues; an advisory board composed of youth wellness and mental health, social, and bullying experts guides research projects that are featured on the site. A blog also offers updates on the foundation.
Is it any good?
This website has more content than many philanthropic organizations' sites; it's clearly striving to make its online presence more than just a calling card. The site's sections are well-written -- they touch on relevant topics like cyberbullying and, instead of just providing background, make an extra effort to provide concrete tips so that kids can do something about the issues they're reading about, instead of just feeling frustrated and helpless. Students, for example, can read about online harassment and sign up to become a campus ambassador, or download a playbook with ideas on how to host a party where guests participate in acts of kindness, such as sending a message to a veteran or collecting cans for a local food pantry. The foundation's research arm lends additional legitimacy; its site has also spawned a separate online effort, Channel Kindness, featuring acts of kindness from around the U.S. that are submitted by a team of reporters age 16 to 24.
The Born This Way Foundation site doesn't offer a lot of bells and whistles in terms of games or other interactive features, but because action items kids can utilize in real life are included, that shouldn't be a deal-breaker. The foundation definitely deserves kudos for the content it has produced. Unfortunately, though, there isn't all that much of it. Most sections have just a few items. They're informative, but without more to read, kids aren't likely to return to the site very often. Hopefully, in time, site administrators will add more -- although its unclear when many of the items were posted, but based on their substance, it seems the foundation's efforts are off to a good start.
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