Congress for Kids

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
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Text-heavy government site could be more fun.

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The site has no ads and is sponsored by nonpartisan, nonprofit organization The Dirksen Congressional Center, which aims to improve civic engagement by promoting a better understanding of Congress.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this informative site, hosted by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Dirksen Congressional Center, gives a solid -- but lengthy and text-heavy -- overview of how the federal government works. Users can search for information on the site or access online search engines like Yahoo and Google. There are no ads and fairly simple to use, but with sentences like "abuse of power or failure to uphold these responsibilities cannot be tolerated" kids need to know how to read well, or have an adult explain things to them.

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What's it about?

CONGRESSFORKIDS.NET was designed to teach kids about the federal government. It's divided into sections covering independence, the Constitution, the legislative branch, executive branch, judicial branch, and elections. The site has plenty of governmental history and information, but it's a lot for kids to get through. Although it's clear CongressforKids.net tried to keep its pages pretty short -- most are just two or three paragraphs long -- some sections contain a lot of long pages (the election section has a whopping 14).

Is it any good?

Clicking through each section and reading the text of this site gets really boring, really fast. Truth be told, there isn't much on the site to hold kids' interest. Except for the promising opening page, in which excited voices encourage users to click on the Capitol to start, the site's cartoony graphics are really simple; some almost look like clip art. A couple of quizzes in the beginning of the site are interactive. But, once you click onward to tour the governmental system, many of the quizzes need to be printed out which isn't the most exciting use of technology. The whole site kind of feels like a book that was made into a Web site. To get kids giddy about the government, CongressForKids.net really needs to pump up its fun factor.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about finding reliable information on the Web. Why is a site created by an educational professional better to go to than a site you just come across during a search? How can you tell if you can trust what you're reading on a site? Families can also talk about why it's important to learn about the government. Why do you need to know how laws are made? How does the government affect you?

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