A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Wattpad is a site and app 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. Users are asked to rate their story as mature or for everyone, but it's voluntary; 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. Some content may have a commercial aspect, due to the site's Wattpad Stars program, which pairs writers with brands. As of 2017, there's also Wattpad Premium, which is $5.99/month and removes ads. Comments from readers are usually helpful and encouraging but also can be brutally honest. Teens should be mature enough to receive criticism.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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. Top writers may even be brought into the Wattpad Stars program that can further their publishing goals. 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?
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). In addition, the site's Wattpad Stars program, launched in 2015, claims to offer top writers opportunities to get exposure, and potentially get published -- which it might. It also has a strong commercial component, though; companies can commission Wattpad Stars to write stories that support their brand goals. Still, despite the advertorial-sounding addition and the lack of content monitoring, Wattpad's value lies exactly in the fact it so clearly belongs to the teens, who are actively reading and writing what they love -- and that's encouraging.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about advertising. Members who are Wattpad Stars may be asked to produce stories that involve products from commercial companies, so would that be considered promotion?
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.
- 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