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 "book social networking site" features a rotating selection of new titles published by Simon & Schuster, which teens ages 14-18 can read online and discuss. (Only teens in this age group are permitted to register on the site.) Visitors must provide a mailing address to sign up, and it may take several days for an account for be approved by the webmaster. In general, users' interactions are friendly and respectful, and the books seem to be age-appropriate. (Two of the current selections include Girl Stays in the Picture by Melissa de la Cruz and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare.)
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Is it any good?
Simon & Schuster's PulseIt began as an offline program that provided teens with free books in exchange for their feedback. Now, this "book social networking site" encourages teens to choose to a book to read online -- two new titles are introduced each month -- and post their reviews. Judging from the overwhelmingly positive ratings, the books seem to be faring well. The browser-based reader isn't very sophisticated, and some users have complained about technical glitches. Visitors may also get frustrated waiting for their accounts to be approved -- it can take several days before they're granted member status. Nevertheless, teens who like to read young-adult fiction will have fun expressing themselves in this friendly, respectful community.
Online interaction: The vast majority of interactions are respectful. However, one user expressed a concern about not being able to block a user who was sending her unwanted messages. There are community guidelines, and users can flag objectionable posts.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Internet safety with social networking sites. What information is OK to reveal in your profile and posts, and what's off limits? What would you do if another user was bothering or harassing you?
Discuss creativity and self-expression. Why do certain books touch us? What kind of stories do your teens have to tell? Families can discuss the risks and rewards of sharing our writing and talk about giving and receiving constructive criticism.
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