Wikipedia.org

Website review by
Ellen Dendy, Common Sense Media
Wikipedia.org Website Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Collaborative reference: Research with caution.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 34 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 123 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Rigorous ethics guidelines are administered; but sometimes people with agendas get into entries and twist things to their versions of their own truths.

Violence

In general, searches limited to school topics are presented in an academic manner, but main entries may include links to iffy content on and off the site. Watch for less conventional topics including violent video games, gangs, and adult media of all types. Occasionally malicious contributors add violent content, which is usually, but not always, removed quickly.

Sex

Ranges wildly. Includes encyclopedic-type entries for porn stars, R- and X-rated movies, explicit song lyrics and more; some adult pages, pages relating to sexual activity or anatomy include very sexually graphic images. Searches limited to school work and kid-specific media are safer, but entries may include links to other age-inappropriate content on and off the site. Occasionally malicious contributors add sexually gratuitous inappropriate content, which is usually, but not always, removed quickly. It's a gamble.

Language

Entries for topics including TV shows, films, video games, music, celebrities (and much more) may include inappropriate language (like video and song downloads with explicit lyrics and crass humor). Wikipedia entries that seem age-appropriate may include links to other Wikipedia entries with sexually graphic language or expletives. Occasionally malicious contributors ruin entries by inserting bad language, which is usually, but not always, removed quickly.

Consumerism

Entries for commercial products; some external links lead to commercial-heavy sites.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Entries and associated content may include discussion and images of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wikipedia entries are compiled by users -- not an editorial staff. It's a constantly evolving collaborative encyclopedia and kids use it all the time to do research. The site employs no age filters. Kids who roam through the site can research anything from Galilleo to graphic sexual practices. Searches may return great information or words or images that are not for kids under any circumstances.  That said, most kids are asked to use this resource for schoolwork.  The most important thing kids have to realize is that even though many people look at entries, that doesn't guarantee that what they see is accurate. Kids must be encouraged to think critically about what they read and double check facts and sources if they are using anything for a homework assignment. While the millions of topics include many well-researched, kid-friendly entries, Wikipedia also has some material that is absolutely not appropriate for kids. The site does monitor the material posted, but it's just so enormous that the potential for kids to stumble upon age-inappropriate -- or inaccurate -- text and photos exists. Entries can also include links to outside sites, and kids can post and receive unedited messages in the discussion areas. Mostly, kids start surfing through the site and travel as their interests dictate. That said, some of those "interests" can be "TMI" for kids.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2-year-old Written byDesiredLoginName January 8, 2009
Parent of a 13-year-old Written byMr. Boxbox April 9, 2008
giving wikipedia a parental review is like giving a dictionary or an encyclopedia a review. there are some articles that are about sex, violence or swearing but... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byReviewsandFun8910 August 15, 2013

CSM, stop being overproctective.

Wikipedia is good, don't listen to CSM. Sometimes, I think they wrap their kids in bubble wrap. I love Wikipedia. I use it for my school reports A LOT. I t... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old March 28, 2019

People, stop being so overprotective!

I think Wikipedia is a good site for anyone who needs some information! Yes, there are inappropriate stuff on there, but only if you search something bad. If yo... Continue reading

What's it about?

WIKIPEDIA.ORG fuses those 12 old-school volumes of hardback encyclopedias into one URL with a wealth of information on geography, the arts, history, and other standard encyclopedic categories, along with kid-friendly, pop-culture entries on comic strips, toys, and TV shows.

Is it any good?

The most important thing to know about this collaborative encyclopedia is that anyone with an Internet connection can edit entries, and while the site does have rigorous guidelines and a system to catch and eliminate bad content, they just can't keep up with the millions of constantly changing entries. (Malicious content is removed as quickly as possible and hard-hit entries are locked down from further editing.) And you can guarantee that your curious kid will find all the detailed entries you wished he hadn't (pornography, explicit song lyrics, long-winded definitions of dirty words). The carefully researched, comprehensive entries do exist, but a disclaimer states that stuff may be wrong and to use the site as just one of many reference tools. You might also want to check out the discussion areas before your kid freely posts or gets any messages.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the nature of a collaborative encyclopedia. Why is it important to use Wikipedia simply as a launching pad for more extensive research? Families can also talk about the ways to double-check a Wikipedia entry against more formal references. How do you navigate through such large amounts of information and find what's important?

Website details

  • Genre: Educational
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Last updated: February 11, 2020

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