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 creative site is yet another free teen social networking destination where kids can come across some hurtful and unsafe content: sexual banter and language, images with weapons or violent innuendo, and name-calling and swearing. The personal pages usually stick to routine teen topics like dating, pets, and friends and have insightful commentary on social issues such as racism and religion. But others host sexual photos, personal identification information, and commentary that isn't kosher. There's also some banner ads and solicitations for collecting marketing data.
What's it about?
The megapopular PICZO.COM provides teens with free tools to build personal Web sites and meet other teens. Members can post photos, video, text (glitter text, too!), and interactive elements including quizzes and chat logs on their sites. The company bills itself as a "safer online environment for teens… empowering teens to build their own personal online communities to share their ideas and experiences with their friends around the world." The site even partnered with WiredSafety.org (an online safety and help group) to create lengthy safety guidelines.
Is it any good?
The good news is that kids can password protect their site so only people they give a password to can check it out. The bad news is that kids can link to other kids' sites that may contain content that shouldn't be out in the open for all to see. Guidelines are clear about what shouldn't be posted on personal sites, but how closely monitored or enforced those guidelines are is questionable. At least site rules state that parents can remove their underage kid's inappropriate content or access to the site. Kids (or adults) can also click on the "abuse links" on any page to report inappropriate stuff, and the home page links parents, teachers, or anyone else with the site's administrators.
Even though the tools to create a site on Piczo.com are simple and the personalization options are vast, the quality and content on each user's site varies. Some sites stick to routine teen topics like dating, pets, and friends and include insightful commentary on social issues such as racism and religion. Other users post sexual photos, personal identification information, and commentary that isn't kosher. And, as on most teen social networking sites, some chats include hurtful, rude, sexual, and inflammatory language.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Internet safety. Once you read through the site's thorough safety page, you can discuss why Internet safety rules still apply on sites like these that promote themselves as "safer." What are the benefits of invitation-only networking? Families can also talk about the pages other teens have created on the site. What do you like or dislike about each one?
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