A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this website.
Teens who love to write will find solid refuge in this website, which is a community of young writers. It takes courage to put their work out there and see what comes back, but Teen Ink has other assets as well. A wealth of targeted resources will keep kids busy surfing without coming up empty. Kids will also appreciate connecting with peers about their writing as well as other topics in a safe forum. Kids can discover connections with kids whose experiences are different and take delight in the surprise at common ground. Teen Ink is a valuable website for students interested in sharing and publishing their writing.
There are numerous positive messages to be found and lessons to be learned. Those who submit their work are living through experiences that are common to all teens, so there's solidarity and camaraderie. Much of the work has strong, positive messages of responsibility, overcoming adversity, and successfully navigating the trials of the teen years. The site can help users -- whether they submit work or not -- build confidence in themselves and their creativity. Comments and critiques are mostly favorable, supportive and encouraging, making it a nurturing environment.
Violence & Scariness
With the sheer quantity of original written content in the fiction and non-fiction sections, there are certain to be some instances of violence (concocted or real), but most are mild or alluded to. A drunken frat boy breaks down a door. A parent yells menacingly at a teenager. A sibling dies in an accident.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
All submissions are reviewed and screened by the editors, and the content is highly scrutinized for its appropriateness. As one would expect from teen writing and art, there are pieces devoted to relationships, flirting and sensuality, but the heavily monitored submissions are mild and appropriate for its audience.
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Some of the written submissions contain occasional mild swearing, but because the work is screened for its appropriateness, all curse words are not spelled in their entirety. S--t, damn, hell are common but used within the context of the fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.
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Products & Purchases
The site has several Google ads on each page, each promoting something "teen" related such as a "12-step program for troubled teens" or "parenting tips for teens." There are also several small display ads touting other Teen Ink products including the print magazine and various online writing courses. Some brand names and products may appear within the individual submissions.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There are occasional references to drinking, smoking, and drugs in the written submissions, but they are most often framed in a negative light (i.e. drunk college boy makes a fool of himself and quiet sober boy gets the girl).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this outlet for teen creativity is a safe, supportive environment for kids to express themselves through words and art. With thousands of teen-created submissions to read and view, there's the potential for sensitive or mature subject matter, but the material here is pre-screened for inappropriate language or content and the result is extremely clean creative content.
Is It Any Good?
Teens -- and even their parents -- will glean a lot from perusing the work on this site, which is supported by The Young Authors Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to giving teens a voice and boosting their self-esteem. Not only are there great examples of strong writing and fine art here, but the subject matter is extremely relevant to teens anywhere. Because the content is created by teens, young visitors will find a good deal they can relate to and may even find themselves quickly caught up in the short stories, articles and poetry. The themes vary in tone, but the subject matter touches on topics ranging from dating and driving to divorce and death. Kids of all creativity levels will find inspiration here. Those with aspirations to write or draw will be encouraged to continue pursuing their interests, and those who may struggle with writing or creativity may recognize that hard work pays off.
Online interaction: All submissions are subject to critique from other Teen Ink visitors, so anyone submitting is able to see comments -- good or bad -- from other registered users. The vast majority of comments are positive, constructive, and supportive. Even the reviewers who have negative comments about the submissions manage to frame their criticism in kind, gentle ways.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.