A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Xyza: News for Kids provides pre-screened, kid-appropriate news content on a variety of topics, ranging from entertainment to world events. Kids can't post anything directly to the site, which removes the chance of them sharing any personal information, and news items very rarely link to other sites (and then only to reputable, respected organizations), which should prevent kids from ending up somewhere with content that's less appropriate. Parents can opt to test out the site with a 30-day free trial, but they'll need a paid registration for kids to see more than a few items per day after the trial ends. Subscriptions for the print version of the content, the online version, or both range from $15 to $50 and are available on an annual basis or in three- or six-month intervals.
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What's it about?
XYZA: NEWS FOR KIDS was created by two moms who met in an MBA class and eventually discussed the issues they were having finding a suitable news source for their children. Kids can view a few items for free, but to see more, parents need to subscribe. There are both online and print versions, and you can pay to receive both. The site's articles, written for elementary and middle school-aged kids, touch on world events, the government, science, technology, and other topics. Some are contributed by kids who use the site.
Is it any good?
The articles on this well-written site are specifically written for kids -- and some are actually written by kids. The site has a Junior Reporter Program that encourages readers to submit articles, photos, videos, or audio recordings. Kids will see many photos on the site, but there's definitely more written content than videos. The articles are generally a manageable length -- not too short to lack information, and not so long they'd lose kids' interest -- and they're written in a tone that's conversational and appealing, with headlines like, "Holy Iceberg, Batman! What Do We Do Now?" A few of the articles aren't what you might consider hard-hitting news: a collection of funny wildlife photos, for example, or a Junior Reporter Program submission about a Pokémon character. The site’s written content also doesn't feature a lot of interactive elements, which could help make it more engaging. But most articles involve thought-provoking takes on topics that should interest kids, ranging from the iPhone turning 10 to why the U.S. president pardons a turkey each Thanksgiving. Some feature pop-up definitions of potentially unfamiliar terms, like "Paris Climate Agreement," which can help kids navigate the news. Some stories may leave younger readers with questions -- such as an article about a study on the physical effects of being in space that mentions an astronaut who returned from space with altered chromosomes but doesn't explain what chromosomes are.
Kids can view a few items for free but will eventually be told they need to subscribe to see more; while the cost isn't too hefty -- roughly $3 a month with an annual subscription -- that could be a deterrent for some parents. But being able to use the site as a regular news source can be beneficial; it will keep kids informed about some current events and could inspire them to seek out additional information about a variety of topics, without accidentally stumbling on graphic photos, articles, or videos meant for adults. A subscription also lets kids select topics to create a customized page that showcases their areas of interest when they log in. That helps personalize the experience and may keep them interested in coming back to the site -- which can be a big plus if it encourages them to make seeking out information about the world around them a habit.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between a legitimate news source and an unsubstantiated one. How can you tell if you're reading something that's true?
The topics on Xyza were selected because the administrators felt they'd be of interest to kids. How is news coverage determined? Are most subjects on the site things you were familiar with before reading about them? Are there any major topic areas you feel should be added that aren't currently covered?
Sometimes the news can be informative but also pose questions. What other things do you want to investigate or know after finishing an article?
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