OpenSecrets.org

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
OpenSecrets.org Website Poster Image
Visuals, snappy text explain political spending details.

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The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational value

Kids can learn about political campaign funding, ranging from why candidates disclose personal finances to which groups contributed to which presidential hopefuls in last campaign. Infographics, other visuals provide nice take on many topics. Despite complexity of some subject matter, site content is written in a digestible way, provides helpful background on each theme. Aspiring designers, developers can access financial data to include on their own site, create tools with it. Overall fantastic resource for learning about financial side of U.S. politicians' election bids.

Positive messages

Encourages kids to learn more about U.S. political system.

 

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Language

Some users post swear words in blog comments, but generally, language on site is clean.

 

Consumerism

Site solicits donations to cover its operational costs, but kids won't see many ads.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that OpenSecrets.org is an informative that site offers a nonpartisan look at political spending. Users can discover everything from funding of previous political campaigns to a politician's finances and tax returns. For the most part, the content is kid-friendly, but users can post seemingly unmoderated comments that appear live instantly, so there's a chance kids could come across argumentative conversations or inappropriate language.

 

User Reviews

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What's it about?

OPENSECRETS.ORG is a non-partisan news site run by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics. It uses information gathered from sources like the FCC and the Federal Election Commission to provide an overview of how U.S. political campaigns are funded -- where the money comes from, how it’s accounted for, and what it's spent on. Users can also learn about lobbying and other topics and look up donor information, view a glossary of terms, create their own tools using the site's data, or read politically related news.

Is it any good?

This site is a treasure trove of political spending information, ranging from congressional election amounts to political contributions by state. Using a number of visual components and text that's written in an easy-to-understand, almost conversational tone, the non-partisan site breaks down how funding works, describes what candidates use money on, and includes donor information, too -- users can search by name to find out what individuals have given.

Including more interactive game- or quiz-type elements might help kids dig deeper into the site material. But the text length and page design makes each topic approachable, even when it involves a lot of written material. In light of the recent election, kids may have some questions about the way the U.S. political system works. OpenSecrets.org can be a good resource to help them learn about part of its structure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how political decisions affect kids' lives. Were there any issues in the recent campaign your kids were concerned about?

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  • Ask your child what factors play into whether or not a candidate is someone you want to support. Is there information that's on this site that may affect your child's view of some candidates?

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  • Discuss some of the reasons political campaign spending is so high, and its desired effect, and use the conversation as a springboard to talk about whether or not commercials and other ads make your child want to buy the products they promote.

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Website details

For kids who love politics

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