A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this site does contain some slightly iffy content. Though the tone of the articles is mostly preteen-friendly, links like "World's Best Pickup Lines" may raise a parental eyebrow. In fact, the site actually promotes a responsible approach to dating and romance. Membership is free, but requires setting up a user name and password to communicate with potential crushes. Anyone can browse the profiles; the safety net is that no one can contact a member unless there's a "match," meaning that two people have to know each other in order to get linked up.
What's it about?
Remember when crushes were all about passing notes in class and blathering endlessly on the phone with your best friend? No more. In the era of MySpace and Match.com, crushes are just one more excuse to set up a profile and spend hours online, checking out photos and communicating with friends. The premise of the ECRUSH.COM is to help members find out who has a crush on them in the real (not virtual) world and to push them together through e-flirtation, without the possibility of rejection. eCRUSH has been around since 1999 and claims to have almost 2.5 million members, most of which are in the 13 to 19 age range. According to them, they have matched up 900,000 crushes.
Is it any good?
eCRUSH's content has a CosmoGirl giddiness to it (no surprise there -- they're both part of the Hearst empire), with fun stuff like astrology, dishy advice columns and make-up-your own quizzes -- sort of a virtual version of "Slam Books" (remember those?).
A good rule of thumb: If you feel comfortable letting your teen read CosmoGirl, you won't have a problem letting your kid log on to this site. It's too bad that eCRUSH is just a fun diversion and your teen's interest in this site will probably wane as quickly as a junior high romance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about boundaries, Internet privacy, and some simple rules of how to communicate online. What kind of information is appropriate to post online? Who should you give your personal information to? You can also discuss crushes: What do you when you have one, and when's a crush unhealthy.