A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Instructables is a gigantic DIY site where users share how to build, cook, sew, invent, or try almost anything. The site's overall tone is positive and supportive and encourages creativity. Searching through all of the ideas to separate the good from the bad is better left to adults -- or at least to teens who will check with adults before attempting to build their own outdoor hot tub or reassemble electronics. Expect plenty of ads, as well as a section devoted to alcoholic creations.
What's it about?
If teens are searching Instructables for a project, they can do so by typing in the name of a project (like \"Spartan helmet,\" \"red velvet cupcakes,\" or \"chicken coop\") in the on-site search engine, or browse by category: Tech, Living, Outside, Workshop, Food, or Play. Click on the project and read or watch the (usually) step-by-step instructions. If a teen wants to post a project, visit the Share page and follow one of three methods of posting: Photos, Step-by-Step, or Video. Registered users can also enter contests (to win some pretty big prizes, like an iPad2) and vote on entries.
Is it any good?
INSTRUCTABLES was created by an MIT engineering Ph.D who loves "building kite powered contraptions, cooking breakfast, and demystifying technology so even his grandmother can use it." Users of this site can learn how to do all of those things and more, as well as share their skills and ideas with others. There are some ideas here that are just plain silly, but others are super helpful if you're looking for something specific. Plus there's a lot of creative ideas here that are just fun to browse for the sake of learning.
Online interaction: People can comment on the projects. Most comments appear on point and generally positive or at least not hurtful. There are very active forums for people who register and Pro Members-only forums who pay for that membership as well. A helpful questions and answers section allows people to ask about a problem on a project and get responses.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why sharing ideas can often help make them better. Would teens be willing to submit an idea or instructions for something they're passionate about? Why or why not?
Talk about safety. Just because a project is featured on the Internet doesn't make it perfectly safe or reliable. Discuss basic safety guidelines and whether certain types of projects need your parental approval first. And talk about Internet safety too -- what's OK to share with others and what's not?
- Subjects: Hobbies: building, cooking
Language & Reading: following directions, presenting to others, reading, writing
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, applying information, asking questions, logic, problem solving, thinking critically
Creativity: brainstorming, imagination, innovation, making new creations
Tech Skills: digital creation, using and applying technology
Self-Direction: achieving goals, effort, initiative, motivation, work to achieve goals
- Genre: Educational
- Pricing structure: Free
For kids who love creativity
Our editors recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.