A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the user-generated content on this
site is almost entirely tame -- and very silly. The site appeals to a particular niche that's hard to identify, but those who love their pets, have a silly sense of humor, are interested in digital photography, and enjoy the site's positive vibe seem to be its core community.
What's it about?
Users take silly photos of their cats (which the site refers to as
LOLcats), add captions with intentional misspellings, and submit them to the
site. Started in January 2007 with a single silly cat photo,
ICANHASCHEEZBURGER.COM has become something of a cultural phenomenon. The site receives several thousand submissions per day, of which 10 or so are posted,
and it reported 1 billion page views in 2008. LOLcats even spawned a compilation book with the same name as the site. Most of the photos are of cats caught doing
something catlike – hiding in a box, standing on hind legs, looking grimly at the
camera – while the captions, along the lines of "I eated yr cookie," aptly capture the moment.
Is it any good?
The site's content is entirely user-generated and edited for
the best submissions -- so the quality and humor quotient varies. Mostly, it feels like one giant "in" joke that you slowly catch on to as you view
each successive photo. The feeling of the site is warm and lighthearted and
appreciative of others' efforts -- this isn't a place that tolerates mean-spirited comments.
Still, kids could encounter the rare inappropriate comment before it's flagged and mild sexual references could pop up occasionally if you hit the "random" button. Icanhascheezburger.com is the kind of thing you either like or don't -- and if
your kid is one who does, keep them on the main home page if they're under 12. Better yet, enjoy it with them and try and come up with silly captions for your own pets.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way an online community can develop around such a silly concept as cat pictures with misspelled captions. Why do you think this idea caught on? Can you define what you like about it? Do you think it's OK to misspell so many words for comic effect? What if you tried to do that on your homework? Younger kids: can you think of a caption for something your pet did? Older kids: can you think of another book borne from the Internet?
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