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HowStuffWorks

(i)

 

Excellent tool for kids with nuts-and-bolts questions.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn in-depth information about any subject ranging from culture to science. The Grand Canyon, diesel engines, fine china, Spiderman’s psyche, and vaccines all await exploration with just a few mouse clicks. In addition to the trademark “How Does [insert topic here] Work?” articles, companion pieces and videos can give kids a deeper dive into the subject matter. The site also covers more personal topics, including articles about relationships, drugs, and sex. On HowStuffWorks, no topic is too large or small to cover. Approach this treasure trove of information with a topic in mind to manage the content blitz.

Positive messages

The site encourages learning the odds and ends of simple and complex topics for a better understanding of what makes the world go 'round.

Violence

Articles topics include dangerous animals, war, and violent crimes such as rape, as well as the history of particular weapons. Searches may result in links to iffy sites such ammunitions dealers in "sponsored results" ads.

Sex

Historical articles reference prostitution and break down the history of "kissing"; other article topics include orgasm and oral sex. There are also sections on human reproduction. Diagrams are anatomical, and animations are kid-friendly cartoons. The site includes a resource for parents explaining sex to kids entitled "Makin' Babies," with topics from conception to childbirth. There's a less-detailed version for younger kids. Searches for sex-related terms may turn up "sponsored results" ads for sexy screensavers, dating services, etc.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

The site's consumer focus, while quite prevalent, is not force-fed. Along with links to commercial sites and many ads, an article page may also include links to the HowStuffWorks Consumer Guide, a partner site that offers product and price comparisons, reviews, and other articles.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Entries about illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are informative, not glorified. Some even link to sites that promote a drug-free lifestyle.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that HowStuffWorks.com is an award-winning educational site that provides historical information about many age-appropriate topics (these topics include, but aren't limited to, animals, culture, automobiles, politics, money, science, and entertainment). Articles use simple terms to be accessible to a wide age range. The topics that are iffy for younger kids -- drugs, alcohol, sex, weapons, etc. -- are handled in a scientific or historical way. Parents should be aware that sponsored search results and Google Ads may contain inappropriate content.

What's it about?

Attention-grabbing content is everywhere on the HowStuffWorks.com homepage to the extent that kids may be initially overwhelmed. Content is grouped into eight categories: Adventure, Auto, Culture, Entertainment, Home & Garden, Money, Science, and Technology. It's further divided into subcategories. Kids can choose from enticing articles, games, quizzes or polls, videos, and more. They can also enter topics in the main search box for an organized list of related articles, images, videos, expert reviews, and web results. Note that search results include all content that contains a particular search word. A search for “newspaper” returns an article about editorial pages and a video about newspaper recycling, but also a story about a man who reads a particular item in a “newspaper.”

 

 

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Along with being noted as Time Magazine's "25 Web Sites We Can't Live Without," HOWSTUFFWORKS.COM is also the rightful winner of multiple Webby awards. The site provides a wealth of information and is an excellent learning tool for kids with lots of nuts-and-bolts questions. HowStuffWorks.com is a great source for researching school projects or just discovering something new. It has successfully covered articles on both everyday stuff (energy drinks, laughter, allergies) and not-so-everyday stuff (black holes, lie detectors, symbiosis). That said, the site definitely sells and promotes more than free knowledge (Consumer Guide is a partner), and searches also scour the entire web, offering sponsored results (aka places to spend money), followed by the site's links. Users should understand that some material is not for younger kids, but overall this is a sanctuary that gets to the heart of comprehending many of life's inquiries.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how to find reliable information on the Internet. What are safe sites to browse? How can you tell which sites are trustworthy?

  • Families can also discuss the importance of safety online. Who is -- and who is not -- OK to share information with?

Website details

Subjects:Hobbies: building, gardening
Skills:Self-Direction: academic development, personal growth
Creativity: combining knowledge, developing novel solutions
Thinking & Reasoning: part-whole relationships
Genre:Educational
Award:Webby Award
Pricing structure:Free

This review of HowStuffWorks was written by

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Quality

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The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old April 1, 2009

It can teach

I searched for Punnett Squares and it can teach you really well. You can try it with how plushes were made or electronics and more.
Kid, 10 years old October 9, 2011

Really gooood

it is a great site mostly can be used for kids!!! i have quite satified with this site!!! :-)
What other families should know
Educational value
Too much swearing
Adult Written bykitode April 9, 2008

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