Upworthy

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
Upworthy Website Poster Image
Light take on social issues may be too mature for some kids.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about a variety of topics, ranging from racial inequality to economics, through posts. Kids will find news items about the environment, poverty, sexual identity, body image, and other issues. Posts generally offer an overview of a recent event or subject. Many contain images and videos that help illustrate concepts. They're broken down in a digestible way; however, parents should be aware that authors often take a stance toward one side of an issue. You may want to discuss the opposing view to make sure your child fully understands each subject. Upworthy is a sometimes biased but very accessible way for teens to get a taste of social issues around the world. 

Positive Messages

The site's goal is to share relevant, meaningful news to help keep people informed.

Violence

Some posts mention murder and other crimes, but they're educational, not gratuitous. 

Sex

Most sex-related posts have an educational intent; however, some feature videos with nudity (and may or may not be marked NSFW as a warning). 

Language

The site has a conversational tone, and some headlines include "s--t," "a--," and "f--k." 

Consumerism

Ads precede some videos, and the site's home page features a promoted content item (which is marked).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Posts skew a bit toward drug legalization but don't glamorize drug use; drinking and cigarettes are also mentioned but not encouraged. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that kids may come into contact with some controversial topics on the site, such as abortion. They can share items on Facebook and Twitter but can't easily get in touch with other Upworthy users. No registration is required, so kids don't have to provide any personal information. Kids could, however, potentially click over to YouTube from some of the videos. 

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What's it about?

Designed to draw attention to societal issues ranging from inequality to the environment, Upworthy's chatty, often opinionated posts frequently feature videos, graphics, and other visual elements. Site editors add daily items under one of Upworthy's eight designated topic areas: democracy, diversity and equality, economics, environment, health, humanity and culture, justice, and science and technology. Users are encouraged to share stories that resonate with them with their networks; according to Upworthy, 50 million do each month. 

Is it any good?

UPWORTHY bills itself as "social media with a mission" -- you'll have to provide the social media part, though, because the site primarily offers a static experience. Users can't comment on posts, and they can't upload items of their own. They can, however -- and are encouraged to -- share Upworthy posts on their Facebook, Twitter, and other pages. 

The site has received some flak for its unconventional headlines. Some are clever and quirky; others sound a bit cumbersome. (For example, "Most pregnant women know what they need to bring to the hospital. Doris' list had something extra.") But you can't really blame the site for trying to grab readers' attention, and once you've been drawn into an item, the editors do a pretty good job of breaking the subject matter down with text, images, videos, and other elements. 

You won't find totally impartial news coverage on the site; it doesn't tackle every current events topic, and posts often feature a pretty clear position, which some parents may not be completely comfortable with. Upworthy wasn't created for kids, and, as a result, some items also contain some adults-only elements, such as nudity (in videos about body image) or swearing (in headlines). With a little supervision, however, parents may be able to use the site to help explain some of today's most talked-about social issues -- Upworthy provides just enough information and visuals to get kids up-to-date on most of the topics it covers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the news is covered online, in newspapers, and on TV news. How does each medium differ? 

  • Can your child point out the who, what, when, where, and why elements in an article? 

  • Use some of Upworthy's posts to start a discussion about topics that might be difficult to bring up with your child, such as body image. Does your child have strong feelings about the subject? 

Website details

For kids who love critical thinking

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