What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the unmonitored message boards are the biggest draw for this tween/teen celeb magazine site. They operate on a trust system -- users are asked not to post any vulgar, defamatory, hateful, or sexually oriented material, and a disclaimer warns that the site may remove messages although the messages and their content "are not responsibility of this forum." Members can email the site to report any offenses, and the site passively informs users that, due to COPPA regulations, users age 13 and under are not allowed to register -- but doesn't prevent them from doing so. The result: A cleaner board than you might expect, but invites to even more unregulated sites like MySpace are common. The rest of the lean site is innocuous.
What's it about?
POPSTARONLINE.COM is the online component of Popstar! magazine and has an unmonitored forum, contests giving away MP3 players, quizzes that let users select their favorite blonde male Disney star, teasers for the magazine, and options to buy a subscription to the print publication.
Is it any good?
Aside from some gimmicky features, the site's heavy on the print promotion and light on activities. Plugs for the current issue are everywhere -- self-promotional ads reference (but don't offer any content from) articles; the Juicy Stuff section is almost all issue teasers. One of the only sections offering substantial reading is a series of outtakes from a band interview appearing in -- of course -- the current issue. PopStarOnline.com's other offerings aren't much more engrossing. Users can download a free teen star poster or chat with other celeb-centric users on message boards filled with debates about which boys are cuter and users gently pushing the conversation over to MySpace. And if all that talk about the current issue just makes you want to read the magazine ASAP, there's the chance to subscribe for 12 issues for $19 ($35 outside the U.S.) and order back issues through 1999.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the danger of providing personal information to people on message boards who may or may not be the age or gender they claim to be. What information is OK to share? Why is it important to never post a full name, address or phone number?