What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this site is the TV channel Nickelodeon's home on the web. It has a huge library of harmless, fun games that are occasionally educational, but mostly arcade-like, as well as a virtual world called the Club. It's important to note that ads run amok on this site -- from banner ads to streaming video commercials to pop-ups with hard-to-see close buttons. The ads are distracting and make cleverly designed activities difficult to find and appreciate. Once on this site, kids can have access to any Nick show, movie, sister site -- anything Nick, for that matter. But parents -- once on the site, kids also have access to other sites owned by Viacom, including AddictingGames.com, which has sexual and violent content. Your kids may not look down in the footer, but if they do, there is nothing that restricts access to sites geared toward older teens.
Is it any good?
Buyer beware: NICK.COM advertises heavily on this site. With every new page, banner ads run at the top and side of the screen, streaming videos and commercials run to the right side of the screen, and internal website feature ads run in the middle of the screen. The latter is especially distracting as they are animated and cycle through different ads that kids have to scroll past to see all the buttons for each section. Commercials and ads not related to Nick.com are touting products that are unhealthy, such as sugar-filled cereals and snacks. If kids click on the Shop button in the main toolbar, they're taken to a different site to shop for Nick-related books, videos, toys, games, and clothing. However, hidden under advertisements and sketchy and overwhelming navigation are some valuable ways for kids to creatively participate in different activities.
But the most troubling part of the site is buried at the bottom in the footer. There kids can have unrestricted access to sites like AddictingGames.com, which has games with violent and sexual content.
Online interaction: Users interact in the Club, Nick's virtual world, as well as on bulletin boards. Chat in the Club uses a dictionary screened by Nick, as well as what the site calls a "Dirty Phrase Checker."
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about their favorite Nick TV shows and how they are represented online. Does the online content make you enjoy the show more? They can also discuss how to tell the difference between an ad and actual content. Why do you think the lines are blurred?
Families can talk about advertising and the effects it has on themselves and on their kids. How can you tell when a site is trying to sell to kids or to their parents?
Families can also talk about setting computer time limits so kids get a balance of activities, both online and off, in their day.