A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that JamStudio is an amazing music creation site that enables kids and adults to make their own music with little to no formal music knowledge. With more than 100,000 files of real musicians playing real instruments that can be put together in countless ways, this site is a "musical sandbox." Unfortunately, there are no Terms and Conditions or privacy policies posted, and there are no parental controls. So, even though this site is touted as a tool for music education in schools, it's difficult to discern just how kid-friendly JamStudio is presently. Portions of the site are free; an "all-access pass" is $24.95 for six months.
Is it any good?
"In every person there's at least one great song waiting to be written" is the theme of JAM STUDIO. With reportedly 2 million hits, 100,000 regular users, and ranked No. 1 in Google searches for "Create music online," this innovative tool draws people who want to create music but may not have the skills, instruments, or studio equipment to do it. While it does have rules against explicit lyrics and offensive talk, this site is not monitored closely and there's no information for parents or parental controls, so unfortunately it's not clear how appropriate it is for kids to spend unsupervised time on the site, connecting with other users for help and feedback.
Online interaction: Part of the mission here is to bring musicians together to collaborate on music and lyrics and offer feedback. When focused on music, the interactions on the boards seem generally positive. When not focused on music, some of the comments can be harsh ("Get a life"), and a few off-topic jokes and comments were observed. Users can share songs with others by entering their email addresses.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Internet safety rules. If you have a teen who loves creating music and would really benefit from using this site, discuss your family's rules for engaging with other unknown members about feedback for their work. Sharing creative work like music can be a personal thing, but what sort of personal information should not be shared with anyone over the Internet?
Since you're on the topic of music, talk about the issues surrounding illegal downloads with your teen. If they're creating their own music on this site, maybe it will help them understand the value of other musicians' work and why it should not be shared illegally.
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