A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while Textnovel encourages creativity and writing, there aren't a lot of restrictions on what you write about -- or how you phrase it. As a result, many of the stories posted on the site include adult themes (such as prostitution and cutting) and language that parents may not be thrilled to have younger teens reading. The site also lets users include their cell phone number in their profile -- which opens up a number of privacy issues.
Is it any good?
Founded by a literary agent, TEXTNOVEL bills itself as a social network for writers and readers. Authors can post stories, chapter by chapter, about any topic they want to write about -- although many center around popular themes like romance and young adult fiction. The site makes it easy for writers to submit material using computers, cell phones, or even text message, and offers them the chance to get their work read and receive feedback on it. Textnovel also includes a nifty function that allows users to make an in-progress story private so that only selected friends can read it before the story goes live. Nonfiction and fiction fans should also enjoy clicking around -- there's plenty to read. The site's only major drawback is that much of the content, while creative, isn’t always kid-appropriate. Writers can post pretty much whatever they want, so kids who come to the site to read young adult fiction could easily stumble across a story about a stalker or stripper. Although stories contain a G, PG, PG-13 or R rating, the authors select it, so it's pretty subjective -- and there's really nothing stopping younger readers from reading an R-rated story.
Online interaction: Users can comment on authors’ published stories or ask friends to offer advice on how to improve an in-progress story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Why it might not be a good idea to post personal information -- like your cell phone number -- as part of a profile that you create on a website, even if you think only your friends will see it.
Talk about how to protect your personal privacy.
Watch our video on digital creativity and see how other kids use technology to express themselves.