A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hoopla is a digital media service that's available through local libraries to registered users who have a current library card -- kind of like a Netflix that includes books, movies, and more. Kids will need a valid email address and library card -- plus a PIN, if their libraries requires one -- to sign up for the site. (And they can't have any overdue books or fines.) Kids choose a password and use their email address to log in to Hoopla. Users will need a plug-in called Widevine to view content on their Web browser.
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What's it about?
HOOPLA is a digital media service that's available through local libraries to registered users who have a current library card. (Your library has to belong to the service for you to gain access.) Hoopla's offerings include thousands of movies, TV shows, documentaries, instructional videos, music, and audiobooks. Users can borrow up to four titles a month. You can stream movie and TV content on your mobile device or, using a plug-in, on your computer; it'll be available for 72 hours after you check it out. Music albums and audiobooks are available for 21 days.
Is it any good?
Kids won't find every movie under the sun on Hoopla, but they can potentially find titles that are rated R and feature nudity, bad language, or violence (so parents may want to supervise kids' time on the site). They can, however, also find educational materials to help them learn another language, find out about key historical periods, and brush up on other topics; and, even if there's a waiting list for popular new fare at their local library branch, users don't have to wait to access it online.
Hoopla charges libraries a fee each time one of its titles is accessed, according to Library Journal, but it's free for users. The system could use a more detailed search method; right now, users can locate audiobooks, movies, music, and other items by title or by scrolling through sections such as "Action & Adventure" and "Good for a Laugh." If your library doesn't use Hoopla, you're out of luck. If it does, kids should be able to easily sign up and check out several titles a month -- which, hopefully, will help supplement what they're learning in school.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss how much time you should spend watching TV, even if you're viewing something educational. What limits can you set to ensure your child also is enjoying other activities?
Talk about why a site such as Hoopla -- which doesn't put users in contact with each other -- can be a better place to find information than a general search site. How can you tell if a website is a safe source of information?
On sites where you can enter your name and other personal information, what kinds of things should you never share?
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