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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this gaming site has a lot of other interactive features besides games. Users can register to create a profile, chat while playing games, and post in forums. The site has extensive guidelines for "good behavior," appoints moderators, and encourages users to flag inappropriate content, but some users get away with posting hateful (racist, sexist, or homophobic) comments on their profiles or in forums. (The chat feature censors profanity.) It's hard to keep tabs on the thousands of games -- some are violent shooters and feature a bit of blood, but most are fairly mild and fine for teens.
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What's it about?
Innovative game developers can showcase their creations on KONGREGATE.COM, a gaming portal that allows registered users to upload their own flash games -- and to share in the ad revenue that's generated. Teens who just want to get their game on will find plenty of options here, from simple shoot 'em ups to complex multi-player adventures. There's also a community element that allows registered users to chat, participate in forums, rate games, earn points, and other interactive features.
Is it any good?
Most gaming portals are a mixed bag, but Kongregate's rating system -- and its policy of "hiding" games with bad ratings -- helps steer users toward the best offerings -- like the deceptively addictive "Dolphin Olympics" and the beautifully illustrated "5 Things" puzzle game (both of which, incidentally, are completely G-rated). Some of the forum threads (particularly "serious discussions") can get a bit heavy or hostile for teens, so it's smart to stick with what the site does best -- gaming.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what a good amount of time is for playing online games, and draw up some guidelines for balanced use, since some of the games on this site can be very addictive. Families can also watch our video about online gaming. Parents should also review what kind of information is OK to post in a profile and what's not.