5 websites to keep parents up to date all summer long

pta sunIn Seattle, we have rainy day summer activities and sunny day summer activities. So far, we are spending most of our days outside in the sun. As I sit writing this post, I am looking at the clouds looming in the south and I know we are in for a few wet days. In our house when the rain comes out, the devices come out. When the first raindrop falls, I guarantee my 10-year-old will be asking to download Clash of Clans. Before I agree to download any app, we sit down together, read through the reviews and ratings. We talk about why a game is rated for a certain age and how they can play safe online or how we need to find a better alternative.

Below, I have listed my 5 favorite websites for app reviews and safety information. I also have a list on my Apps & Websites page of the most popular apps and networks with links to reviews for parents and kids. These our great sites to bookmark for when you hear, “I am bored, can I download….” If you have a favorite, please share it in the comment section.

commonsense media

Common Sense Media is an outstanding resource for parents. It provides information and tools to help families choose and manage media in their lives. If you have questions about a specific app or need tips on managing screen time this is the site to turn to first.  If you’re looking for a new app, CommonSense Media has a Summer Guide to Educational Apps.

connectsafely icon

ConnectSafely is a nonprofit organization that publishes safety tips, parents’ guides, advice, news and commentary on all aspects of tech use and policy. Both Anne Collier and Larry Magid write thought-provoking pieces about growing up digital. They also have parent guides on some of the most popular apps as well as new guide on mobile safety. 

esrb icon

Most parents know the ESRB from their ratings on video games but the ESRB’s rating system also includes mobile apps. When out and about, parents can use the ESRB’s free mobile app available on iTunes or GooglePlay to check out the review and rating for apps and games.

ikeepsafe icon

iKeepSafe is a nonprofit organization that focuses on helping families and communities have safe and healthy experiences with technology and the internet. They have developed the iKeepSafe BEaPRO™ Parent app as well as produced parenting guides and app reviews.

yoursphere icon

Mary Kay Hoal is the creator of Yoursphere a social network designed for kids. She also writes a blog Yoursphere for Parents that provides app reviews, how-to’s, tools and information to empower parents to help their families have a healthy and positive online experience.


What Parents Need to know about deviantART

It’s not called deviant for nothing

If your teen is on Tumblr or loves anime, they have likely seen art and read stories from deviantART. DeviantART is a social network and market place for artists, photographers, writers and anyone else who want to showcase their creations. Today, deviantART has 31 million members and over 287 million pieces of art. According to quantcast, 20% of its users are under 18. Although teens will love exploring all the amazing images, parents and teens should know it is not called deviant art for nothing.

deviant art front pageWhile deviantART does not allow pornography, it does have mature content. Mature content can include nudity, excessive violence, strong language and other mature themes. DeviantART relies on its members to tag their creations as mature. Although, images posted in certain categories, such as nudity or fetishes, are automatically tagged as mature and the artist cannot remove this tag.

DeviantART does have a filter for mature content. Anyone over 13 can register for deviantART and for users under 18 the mature filter is automatically turned on and cannot be turned off. With the filter on, any images or art marked as mature cannot be viewed by members under 18 or anyone not logged in to the site. For the most part, this filter does work to keep out graphic images. Even with the filter, teens can still semi-nude portraits and violent images.

deviant art filter on

Besides sharing their artwork, DeviantART members can connect with other artists. Each member has a public profile page. Here they can enter their name, bio and share their interests. Members can choose how much they share by leaving fields blank. They can also edit their profile to hide their birthdate and sex. On their profile is where other members can comment on their work, send them a private message, join a group or follow them. On deviantART followers are called watchers. Watchers receive notifications when an artist they watch updates their journal, posts new artwork or comments.

deviant art profile2While cruising around deviantART, I found most of the comments were generally positive and constructive. Many comments offered suggestions regarding techniques for improving ones images or writing. I did find a few overly critical comments and I noticed most members simply ignored them. Members can also hide these comments on their profile page as well as block individual users. If someone continues to harass them, they can report them to deviantART. They can even decide not to allow anyone to comment and turn off this feature in their settings.

deviant art messaging

If your teen wants to go on deviantART-

  • Take a tour: Let them show you the site and what areas they are interested in. During the tour, check out the type of images and content on deviantART.
  • Register as under 18: If they join, parents should make sure teens register as under 18 so the mature filter is always on.
  • Keep personal information private: Teens should be careful about sharing too much information such as their real name, location and birthdate.
  • Talk about comments and messaging: If they want to post their own art or stories, parents should discuss the pluses and minuses to allowing anyone to comment on their art and share with them what to do if they receive a mean comment or an inappropriate note.
  • Update Security: Some images do contain viruses and members report some buggy ads on deviantART. Teens and parents should make sure their computer’s virus protection is up to date and remind teens not to click on any ads.

For more information, check out