A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fitsmi is a website that helps tween girls who are struggling with weight to create a healthy lifestyle plan using their online tools. Users are supposed to be between age 13 and 18 to register, but they can go back and change the year if they're initially rejected. (However, no matter what age you list, if you check the box indicating you've had an eating disorder, you'll be rejected; users see a message that says, "Unfortunately, it looks like we aren't the right web site for you. You might want to try TeensHealth.org, or ask your doctor for a site he or she recommends.") In theory, registered users can easily friend each other, but the functionality doesn't seem to work.
What's it about?
Founded by a mom who struggled with weight issues as a teen, FITSMI provides free eating and exercise advice for girls age 13 to 18 who want to lead a healthier lifestyle. Girls identify goals, select site-suggested methods to achieve them, and then track their progress with the Change Machine tool. Site administrator posts and audio recordings provide helpful wellness tips; girls can post online profiles and connect them with message boards, profile walls, and blogs for support. Fitsmi also offers a paid 16-week group coaching option, which costs roughly $120 a month.
Is it any good?
Fitsmi's Change Machine, essentially a daily exercise and eating journal, is a potentially helpful tool for tracking weight-loss progress; girls enter their own goals, which will hopefully prevent some from automatically focusing on weight loss (in lieu of more well-rounded efforts, such as working out more or eating more nutritiously). Teen girls' health is a tenuous subject, but Fitsmi seems to tread the waters with care and thoughtfulness. It guides girls toward healthy habits by providing ideas, such as walking to school for extra exercise or drinking water every day, so they don't have to come up with an entire plan on their own. The site also provides plenty of ways to get encouragement from other users.
Some parents may have concerns about how easy it is to talk to complete strangers on the site. Fitsmi's biggest challenge, however, seems to be its amount of content. The site offers a number of behavior-modification suggestions for its Change Machine, but the top two blog posts in the food-based section are more than six months old. Similarly, the exercise section seems to get only, on average, about a post a week. The site's message boards seem a bit more active -- although it's hard to tell, because dates are only listed by month and day. Still, Fitsmi seems to be off to a good start. Its pro-healthy-body-image stance and focus on making incremental changes can supply girls with a solid foundation for making positive moves; if the site kicks up its content level in the coming months, Fitsmi could become an unstoppable health source.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about self-image and about how people at school, the media, and other factors influence it.
Talk about healthy lifestyle choices and how nutritious eating can make you feel good, grow strong, and have energy. Can your child identify several healthy food choices?
Discuss potential lifestyle changes you could make as a family. How can your family potentially improve its eating and exercise habits?
- Subjects: Language & Reading: discussion, reading
- Skills: Self-Direction: achieving goals, effort, personal growth
Emotional Development: moving beyond obstacles, persevering
Health & Fitness: balanced diet, exercise, fitness
- Genre: Social Networking
- Price: The site is free to use; users can also sign up for a 16-week group coaching program that costs $120 a month or a one-time $432 payment.
- Pricing structure: Free
For kids who love staying healthy
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