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The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this site -- a one-stop shop for the 2008 presidential election -- is part of MySpace.com and therefore best for older teens and up. Not all forum discussions pass the civil discourse test, but such is life both on and off the Internet when politics are involved. You don't need to be a member of MySpace to use most of the features on this site -- like watching the debates, registering to vote, and reading about the issues -- but you do have to join to post comments on the forums.
What's it about?
MySpace's MYDEBATES.COM offers Web surfers a way to get politically active without ever leaving their laptop. Users can watch debates live, discuss political views on multiple forums, read more about the issues, take a quiz to find out who they most agree with, and more. When the debates are actually airing, viewers can also answer poll questions that pop up on their screen and visit an area of the site that presents the candidates' opinions on the subject at hand. The site provides links to the candidates' Web sites and MySpace pages and lets users register to vote, print out position papers, submit questions for future debates, and more.
Is it any good?
This comprehensive, easy-to-use site will likely motivate many teens and college students to get involved in this year's presidential election who might otherwise never have tuned into a debate or read about the issues. It's hard to keep political discourse civil in a relatively anonymous Internet setting, but overall MyDebates.com is a good place to get a sense of what other people are thinking and voice your own opinions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why it's important to get information about political candidates from a variety of sources. Why is it important to watch candidates debate? Why should you check the "facts" that people post on the forum with another source? What sources should you use? Talk about why voters should always look at political information with a critical eye. If your teen isn't old enough to vote, discuss other ways to be politically involved.
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