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Wattpad

(i)

 

Teen writers hone craft, get feedback; watch privacy.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn to develop their reading and writing skills as well as the discipline necessary to keep writing (they'll want to keep their readership coming back). They'll explore the world of grassroots marketing -- such as peer-led book clubs, social sharing, and more -- to get their stuff read. Contests and partner publishers give young adults the exposure they need to reach millions of readers worldwide and create a career, or they can just have fun writing light fiction about their favorite teen stars. Wattpad propels young adults into a vibrant and sometimes racy community of readers and writers.

Positive messages

Kids are empowered to write freely and seriously; the site makes them feel like "real writers." 

Violence

Genres such as adventure, horror, vampire, and werewolf have the usual knife play and more. 

Sex

Some selections definitely qualify as erotica but are found in the romance section, and many of the fan fiction titles feature graphic, detailed sex scenes (think Fifty Shades of Gray, which started out as Twilight fan fiction). It's unclear how well this is moderated and whether people are using comment sections to create offline connections. 

Language

Users are free to use everyday language, including profanity of all kinds.

Consumerism

Ads are absent in the beginning, but, as time ticks away, sidebar behavioral ads start sneaking in, as do video pop-ups. A shop sells four items: stickers, tote bags, hoodies, and T-shirts.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Ads for online prescription drugs sometimes appear, and there's obvious use of the word "drugs" to get hits and attention for certain stories. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Wattpad is a place where teens and adults can publicly share their fiction writing in a blog-like format as well as read and comment on other people's works. A movie-style content rating system rates writings G, PG, PG-13, or R, but it's voluntary; nearly a third of the writings are unrated, and some decidedly explicit stuff shows up, especially in the romance and non-fiction sections. The relatively unmoderated environment means younger teens should proceed with lots of caution, but there's clearly a community of young people who use Wattpad responsibly, so be sure you know your kid and monitor use. Comments from readers are usually helpful and encouraging but also can be brutally honest. Teens should be mature enough to receive criticism. 

What's it about?

Teens can read, write, and communicate with other writers on WATTPAD; the goal is to get their own work out in the public sphere. Writing is published in serialized chapters and organized by genres, ranging from "werewolf" to "spiritual." There also are a few classics available to read, as well as works by popular published authors. Most chapters contain only a few pages, but there are hundreds of new works posted daily, and total reads occasionally hit the million mark. Beyond writing, kids can start a book club to encourage readership of their own work or a favorite genre, enter contests to earn a Watty award, and aspire to actually get published with partner Sourcebooks. ​Submissions are nearly all in English, but site translation in nearly 50 languages supports writers and content from across the globe.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

As a platform for young adult writers to hone their writing skills, develop readership, and even move toward a career in writing, Wattpad is awesome. Its basic tools let kids save, edit, and publish with ease and are topped off with fun features such as dedications, links to book trailer videos, and the ability to upload covers. Help for newbies comes in the form of specialty clubs including Improve Your Writing and Multimedia Designs, although some more concrete writing resources would be a nice addition. 

The downsides to giving kids free reign are obvious -- loosely monitored commenting from users of all ages, for starters. There's a "three strikes" policy for repeat offenders, but you'll want to keep an eye on both what your kids are publishing and reading as well as who's reading their work. Although some writing is really polished and just waiting to be picked up by a book publisher, there's a lot of rambling sludge starring pop stars such as Justin Bieber (and more One Direction fan fic than you could ever, ever imagine). Still, Wattpad's value lies exactly in the fact that it so clearly belongs to the teens, who are actively reading and writing what they love. That's encouraging.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how much work it takes to write a whole novel. How does a site like Wattpad help with the whole process? Does getting feedback help?

  • Enjoy discovering new genres of writing; try reading a book as a family that's not in your usual range of interests -- you may end up pleasantly surprised. 

Website details

Subjects:Language & Reading: presenting to others, storytelling, text analysis, writing, writing clearly
Skills:Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, thinking critically
Creativity: brainstorming, combining knowledge, imagination, producing new content
Self-Direction: achieving goals, effort, initiative, personal growth, work to achieve goals
Emotional Development: developing resilience, empathy, handling stress, persevering
Communication: listening, presenting
Collaboration: group projects, meeting challenges together
Genre:Creating
Pricing structure:Free

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What parents and kids say

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A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 12 years old August 8, 2014

Awesome!

You are both author and the reader. You can write your own story and share it with the public. It is awesome!!! Anybody can write on wattpad. Therefore, the stories you may read will have all of the parental cautions. There are pornographic stories, stories involving murders, etc. Please be advised that if your child has a decent idea and posts without a copyright, it may get stolen. Your work is public. Their really isn't much to describe about this app. I suggest just letting your child give it a try. Have them fake a copyright or have them use ideas that aren't publisher worthy. Monitor their activity so you know they are not writing or reading stories intended for sexual arousal.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 13 years old Written byella18601 March 23, 2015

Good if used responsibly

Wattpad is a brilliant platform for sharing your stories and receiving constructive criticism about your writing. The community is mostly friendly and everyone supports each other. I would recommend wattpad but be very cautious about what you (or your child) read(s) because once you've read something it can't be unread. Most stories on Wattpad are either appropriate or have a clear warning in the description but some don't and some are extremely inappropriate, make sure to educate your child on this beforehand. If your child is mature they should be okay at thirteen (Wattpad's recommended age) but it's your judgement.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 13 year old Written bymom2015 April 22, 2015

Loads of inappropriate content

Went on to see what my son was reading...sure kids are on reading because they can easily find inappropriate content plus they can message each other including likely predators
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Safety and privacy concerns

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