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 hub for teen girls does have some valuable information (health issues) and can foster creativity (encourages poetry writing), but also has several interactive elements that might raise some eyebrows. The site monitors its message boards only "as often as we can" -- not 24 hours a day -- so questionable language and photos do slip through, although users are discouraged from posting either. Girls also ask and answer questions on frank topics like having sex in the woods; some user-posted photos show girls downing Jack Daniels or posing seductively in their underwear on a bed.
What's it about?
Packed with informative articles, interviews and more, GURL.COM is divided into six sections. Connect hosts interactive elements; Find Out features facts on topics like acne and alcohol; Play has daily horoscopes, quizzes, and a cool make-your-own game function. The Show Off section houses more than 150 teen-friendly comics, React has polls, and the Explore section neatly groups the content by topic. Membership -- required to post anything -- is free. Users can view and react to video clips from news shows and other outlets; they also can (and do) also ask other users for advice via the boards or through the site's advice column. A daily blog also covers sex topics.
Is it any good?
It may take users their entire gURLhood to try out all the sections on GURL.com, but it's worth the wait. The site's tone is spot-on -- conversational and frank -- and longer sections are broken down into easy-to-digest sections. It tackles tough, emotionally- and politically-charged topics like eating disorders, bisexuality, and abortion with a refreshing honesty, so the site isn't appropriate for very young users, but rest assured: The subject matter is presented in a nonjudgmental way without a hint of sensationalism that's perfect for teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about safety online. Why isn't it safe to post a suggestive photo of you or your friends online. Who sees that photo? Even if you are using a username, why might it be dangerous to have your image online? Also, what other personal stuff is taboo to share online? What is OK to post?