Scarleteen

 

Learning(i)

Edgy sex-ed site best suited for mature teens.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The site emphasizes the importance of consent, respect, and equality when it comes to sex and relationships, and encourages readers to take care of their sexual health and mental health needs.

Violence

The site addresses topics like rape, abusive relationships, and self-injury.

Sex

The site covers a wide range of sex-related topics, including anatomy, pregnancy and STD prevention, abortion, sexual orientation, and sexual pleasure.

Language

The articles are written in an educational voice that uses proper terms for body parts, sex acts, etc. Some user-generated content contains sex slang ("d--k," "jerking off").

Consumerism

Small Google ads; links to Amazon for purchasing a book affiliated with the site.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some content on drinking, smoking, and drugs that discusses health concerns and the risks of sexual activity while under the influence.

Privacy & safety

Submitting questions, posting on message boards, and posting comments on blogs require registration with a username and email address. Users can choose a variety of privacy levels, ranging from being identified by only a username and location to disclosing their email address and a full bio.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Scarleteen is a sexual health site that is educational and medically accurate but sometimes explicit. Parents' comfort level will probably depend on how much they think their teens should know about sexuality. The site includes information that's geared toward younger teens (articles about self-esteem and puberty, for example) as well as more "adult" topics that aren't normally addressed in sex-ed classes (like sexual pleasure). The site identifies as feminist and pro-choice and explains its philosophy as "a nonjudgmental and unbiased attitude of acceptance, tolerance, and understanding for young people, whether they choose to be sexually active or not."

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • biology

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making

Self-Direction

  • personal growth
  • self-reflection

Emotional Development

  • self-awareness
  • handling stress
  • identifying emotions

Responsibility & Ethics

  • making wise decisions
  • embracing differences
  • integrity
  • learning from consequences

Health & Fitness

  • mental health
  • body awareness

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Older teens will appreciate the site's frank, nonjudgmental approach to sex and its cheeky style -- there are puns aplenty. Moderated forums allow satisfying interaction with both peers and experts.

Learning Approach

Info about health, sexually transmitted diseases, anatomy and more is presented openly and frankly, and there's a full list of resources. Here, learning requires a lot of reading, but there's so much helpful info, it's hard to step away.

Support

There's extensive information here, but it's organized well and extremely easy to navigate. A thorough search function enables users to pinpoint precisely the topic they're interested in.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • biology

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making

Self-Direction

  • personal growth
  • self-reflection

Emotional Development

  • self-awareness
  • handling stress
  • identifying emotions

Responsibility & Ethics

  • making wise decisions
  • embracing differences
  • integrity
  • learning from consequences

Health & Fitness

  • mental health
  • body awareness

Kids can learn a lot about anatomy, their own growing and changing bodies, sexuality, and how to have healthy relationships. The advice, articles, and insight consistently encourage visitors to be smart, safe and make wise decisions and even includes specific information about what constitutes consent. Interaction is limited and most content is static, but its focus on self-respect, healthfulness and consequences is significant. Scarleteen provides frank yet friendly information and advice to questions about sex.

This Learning Rating review was written by Conny Coon

What's it about?

Teens have several ways of finding information on Scarleteen. The home page alone is chocked full of information, from \"What's New This Month\" that includes seasonal themes (ex: summer love, and using your more flexible summer schedule to explore sexual health care options), to recent questions and message board posts; teens can also go straight to the topic on their mind. Scarleteen bills itself as the site with \"sex ed for the real world -- inclusive, comprehensive, and smart sexuality information and help for teens and 20s.\" Younger teens may appreciate the seeing that older teens and college students still have questions.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Billing itself as "Sex Education for the Real World," SCARLETEEN takes a frank, nonjudgmental approach to talking about sex with a cheeky style -- there are puns aplenty -- that will appeal to older teens. While some of the subject matter may be controversial, the information provided is accurate and can give teens get a better understanding of their bodies and their sexual feelings. The advice on relationships and emotional health is particularly insightful, from tackling stereotypes like "real men don't cry" to exploring options for teens seeking psychotherapy -- subjects that many health classes never address. Also helpful is the "Find-a-Doc" section, which connects readers with health care providers, counseling services, and other resources.

Online interaction: Registered users can ask and answer questions in the forums. Users are respectful and helpful, and there are many staff and volunteer moderators who frequent the boards.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about media messages about sex. What TV shows or movies depict sex and relationships in a way that's realistic?

  • Every family has different opinions on the best approach to discussing sex and sexual health. Talk about your values and expectations when it comes to sex. Some teens are afraid to talk to their parents about sex. Would your teens feel comfortable approaching you if they had a question or concern? Why or why not?

  • How do you know who (or what) is a trustworthy source of information about sex and sexual health?

Website details

Genre:Educational
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Scarleteen was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Educator and Parent Written bycgo1 May 27, 2011
age 11+
 

Awesome site for youth!

Love this site! Great place for young people to go to get accurate, thorough, thoughtful responses to their questions about sex & sexuality with positive and inclusive messages. Keep up the good work scarleteen!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Parent Written byNaturax May 27, 2011
age 15+
 

Fantastic Resource

Excellent resource for quality information about sexuality. I can't wait for my child to start reading this. There's a lot here that I can learn from too.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Adult Written byDavid Rachel May 27, 2011
age 14+
 

I wish my school had told us about it

There are some things that you need to know, but there's no way you're going to ask in a room full of your classmates, and there's no way your parents have ever had sex. Ever. Right? Scarleteen is brilliant, and not only full of really good "sex-ed" information in an unembarrassing way, but also gives good advice about how to navigate relationships (especially when it comes to communicating and keeping things within the boundaries you want). All those things you're curious about but don't want to stick your hand up in class to ask, all those times you feel like your body's all different from the pictures of how it should be, and all those moments when you don't know how to say what you want, or don't want, or what's reasonable to expect - for every moment like that I ever had in my teens, I wish I could go back in time and read Scarleteen.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages

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