What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this social networking site isn't great on privacy. First and last name and email address are required for registration, and they automatically appear on a user's public profile -- teens need to use the privacy controls to hide this info or restrict it to friends only.
What's it about?
Founded way back in 1995, the scholarly-sounding STUDENT.COM is actually a social networking hub for users ages 13-24. Although the site has some basic info about student loans, test prep, and similar topics, most of its energy goes into interactive features, including chat, forums, groups, and a Q&A advice section. Registered users can earn points as they rack up page views and play games; points can be used to bid on auction items like DVDs and CDs. Parents should note the wide age range of users -- meaning, some of the content is going to be a bit mature for 13 year olds.
Is it any good?
Student.com has a huge amount of content, but the quality varies. Considering the site's wide reach, the community does a good job keeping forums friendly and on-topic (for the most part). There's an extensive list of helpful resources that focus on health, relationships, sexuality, and sexual orientation; most are respected sources such as the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic. Less interesting are the boring games, juvenile jokes, and "ur so hot" banter in some of the profiles.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Internet safety with social networking sites. What information is OK to share, and what information should you keep to yourself? Families can also talk about finding reliable information online. There are a lot of people giving advice in these forums. How do you know if you can trust their opinions or answers?