A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although this online companion to the popular cable channel is definitely commercial, it's not overbearingly so. There's a shopping section that'll probably tempt young kids, but users must be at least 18 to purchase goodies. There are also links to products for sale on many of the pages. Ads for other CN shows often precede the cartoon episodes which include some (Camp Lazlo and Codename: Kids Next Door) that -- due to violence, potty talk, and other bad behavior -- might not be so great for little ones.
What's it about?
When most of us were kids, watching cartoons was primarily a Saturday morning affair. These days, kids can watch a nonstop parade and an enormous variety of cartoons 24/7, thanks in part to the round-the-clock Cartoon Network. And as if that's not enough, there's always the companion Web site CARTOONNETWORK.COM. Though the network squeezes in Looney Toons and other old favorites among the newer more sophisticated shows about kids with alien powers and Mexican wrestlers, the Web site focuses on current faves like Camp Lazlo, Ben 10, and the anime-inspired Naruto.
Is it any good?
Even with its topnotch graphics, this site probably won't hold your children captive like the TV version. The site is mostly games and some videos of popular shows -- entertaining enough, but not as hypnotic as watching the "real" thing. And considering that there are Nintendo versions of these games, the Web site isn't likely to satisfy.
However, the Clipbook activity (type in "clipbook" in the hidden search field at the bottom of the home page or find it in the games section) allows kids to create their own animation and submit it for review. It's a fun exercise and checking out others' stuff is pretty addictive. Who knows -- this might just be what inspires your budding cartoonist to get a job creating the next Simpsons.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about if things seem as real in cartoons as they do in movies or TV shows. Does a fight between two cartoon characters have the same impact as a fight in a movie with "human" characters? Families can also talk about why cartoons are so appealing and how they're different from regular movies and TV shows. How are cartoons made? Families can try their hands at creating animation on the site for fun.