A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that most of the videos on this excellent how-to site are kid-friendly, but some cater to adults. The Sex & Relationships section contains hundreds of videos alone. Even the teen section features sex advice some parents might find objectionable, such as how to get on the Pill or tell your folks you're pregnant. The site specifically states that users must be older than 13 to use the site, but it has so many nicely done instructional videos written just for kids that it would be a shame to ban it outright. Parents will want to keep an eye on what kids are watching -- the site makes all videos accessible -- and prescreen if necessary.
- Parents say
- Kids say
Is it any good?
How do you remember a word you've blanked on, help a friend improve her self-esteem, or kiss like Angelie Jolie? Howcast -- YouTube only funnier and smarter -- answers these timeless questions and more. The site boasts 100,000-plus how-to videos and text guides organized by topic including games, health & nutrition, kids, and teens. Each rewindable video is broken out into easy-to-follow steps. The acting is droll and the lessons, serious or not, can be very good. Claymation, stop-action, and the odd farm animal glued to a popsicle stick (see “How to Tip a Cow”) are just a few of the techniques effectively used to get ideas across. Prepare to laugh out loud.
This site will keep any halfway curious eight-year-old engrossed and giggling for hours. Therein lies the rub for parents, who will need to decide whether they're OK with kids stumbling across Howcast's brand of sex education. The videos are tasteful and feature little bare flesh but do contain frank language. And as for Angie? To kiss like her you'll need "full, pillowy lips" and "an inappropriate partner," preferably someone
Online interaction: Leaving comments after videos is the only means of interacting on the site. Most of the comments sections were empty when we visited -- except for the sex videos, which drew some predictably suggestive remarks.
Talk to your kids about ...
Discuss what satire is. While they usually have a grain of truth, some of the silly how-to videos on this site do not necessarily model ideal behavior.
What kind of how-to video or wiki could families try creating for this
site? Choose something you're knowledgeable about, such
as teaching the family pet a trick, and write down the steps. Parents
can help younger kids shoot videos using the site's special enhancement tools.