Vocabulary.com

Website review by
Stephanie Trautman, Common Sense Media
Vocabulary.com Website Poster Image
Clever site emphasizes word comprehension over memorization.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn words used in the academic and business worlds. Questions provide a thorough look at how each word is used, with example sentences and audio recordings of pronunciations. Kids also can look up words and learn about language topics, including slang. Each question lists a source, providing context, and users get supportive feedback such as, "We knew you'd figure it out!" The point system encourages goal-setting, and though kids feel as if they're playing a fun game, they're also expanding their vocabularies. Vocabulary.com is a great learning resource that's fun, amusing, and engaging for all audiences.

Positive Messages

Users are exposed to new words, can look up terms they don't know, and can read about language nuances such as slang. Learning new words can be fun and empowering for kids.

Violence
Sex

Kids can find terms such as "porn" and "sex" in dictionary searches. Definitions generally harmless, but usage examples link to sites with information on books and articles that could potentially go into more detail.

Language

The dictionary offers definitions, usage examples for "f--k," "s--t," other swear words.

Consumerism

Dictionary results and most other pages are ad-free.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Kids can find drug- and alcohol-related terms in the site dictionary, but the content doesn't encourage them to drink or do drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Vocabulary.com is a place where kids can go to learn new words and play word games. Kids over 13 can do some vocab-building social networking with friends. Kids under 13 are asked to submit a parent's email address during registration. You'll receive your child's password, and you'll have to activate their registration. Even with permission to use the site, kids 12 and under get limited access: Their profiles aren't public, and they can't post comments. As with any dictionary-based site, kids can get silly and look up swear words and anatomy, but the definitions are standard and harmless. However, they could potentially click on links that take them to external sites that could expose them to more content with these definitions.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byEssay Mall September 21, 2013

Interesting

Very cool website. My kids just love it
Adult Written bydashakol April 24, 2016

Website is OK but the app is a total disaster

The website is OK but the app is the most foolish way of wasting time, money and energy I've ever seen in this field. It will infuse new random words in th... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byslyfox432 September 24, 2013

Fine...

Eh, it's fine, sorta similar to Wikipedia. But if anyone is doing homework and part of it is to do vocabulary, this is not the website for whoever is doing... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bypmoney69 December 12, 2016

Terrible

Needs to figure out how to make a good website because a 2 year old could make one better then them.

What's it about?

VOCABULARY.COM is much more than a standard dictionary website. Sure, word definitions can be looked up, but the app also offers a significant number of word games for users to test their comprehension. As you get started, a word appears on the screen. From four definitions, choose the one you think is correct. The site then tailors future questions based on strengths and weaknesses. Many terms are commonly used in academic and business environments, but the site also works to identify terms you may not be familiar with. If kids answer a question incorrectly, Vocabulary.com schedules extra exercises to help them learn it. Users get points for each correct answer and earn badges as they reach different goals; charts track their progress on the site.

Is it any good?

This word-focused website provides a uniquely customized experience centered on words and word definitions. According to the site, which landed a spot on Time magazine's 2012 list of best websites, the more you play, the more the site can adapt its questions (currently, the site has more than 100,000). It's well designed, easy to figure out, and fun. The 10-word quizzes are just long enough to remain interesting, and users earn points and badges for completing tasks, which encourages them to continue. Your progress -- learning individual words or earning activity points -- is carefully documented in charts, and the system goes above and beyond to ensure words are committed to memory. If you miss a word, it'll appear again; ones you've mastered also are occasionally cycled back into the mix. Vocabulary.com's SAT word lists and social-networking component make it a particularly good fit for high school-age students. Still, theoretically, the site challenges could work for nearly any age level.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the new terms your kid learns on the site. Are there other school subjects your child would be interested in researching online? (Check out our School Performance Tips to see how technology can help your kids succeed academically.)

  • Teens can post comments on other users' lists. How can you write a helpful, constructive post? Are there any things you should never say?

  • Kids under age 13 get limited access to some of the site features such as commenting. Why would that be safer than having full rein? Discuss Internet privacy and safety and provide examples of issues that might arise when other users can see your real name or contact you through a website.

Website details

For kids who love learning

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