There's a wealth of websites aimed at tween and teen girls today. As long as you monitor the sites your daughter is on and limit her Internet use to a level you're comfortable with, there's a world of information at her fingertips. Here's what you -- and your daughter -- can expect to see on "girls only" sites.
The sites are fun and colourful, often using a mix of photography and illustration. In fact, it's the illustrations that give you a good sense of the age range the site is intended for -- cartoon-like drawings are tween friendly, while grittier line drawings indicate the site is for an older crowd.
The Internet is considered an entertainment medium and girl sites make sure there is plenty of fun to be had. Along with the opportunity to personalize areas of the site to your own preferences, many also offer the following:
• astrology in every form (name analyser, anyone?)
• entertainment news and gossip
It seems like everyone wants to have their say on message boards, which makes the majority of information on these boards reader-generated -- by teens and tweens themselves. Sharing info on everything from bullying and menstruation to spirituality and technology, girls are talking about their experiences and getting advice and reassurance from their peers. No topic seems too large, too small or, because of the anonymity offered by the web, too embarrassing.
There's no doubt about it -- young girls like to shop and advertisers are responding to that. Most sites for girls are supported by a host of advertising for beauty products, teen magazines, cellphones and the like. Many even offer direct links to sites that sell the merchandise promoted. Some sites are entirely sponsored by a single company -- the producers of feminine hygiene products, for example -- which means that there is an emphasis on a particular brand, but also strong supporting material on the subject at hand.
May we suggest
Here are two girl sites we liked:
BeingGirl.ca â€“ This site is tween-friendly, but still relevant for older teens. Hosted by Proctor and Gamble, makers of Tampax and Always, there is a strong focus on menstruation, including a Period Predictor to help you track your cycle and tons of information on pads and tampons. But you'll still find fun stuff and articles on a variety of serious subjects, too, such as hate and abusive relationships, which are sensitively dealt with.
gURL.com â€“ Definitely not for tweens, but rather for a more mature teen who can handle topics such as self-mutilation and masturbation, this straight-up website is edgy, funky and offers no-holds-barred information. But don't assume it's promoting questionable behaviour just because of its frank nature. A graphic novel-type story about being sexually aroused has a protagonist who refuses to let go of her virginity.
Tip: Always encourage your daughter to come to you with any questions or with anything she'd like to discuss, based on things she has seen or read on the web, at school or from friends. Keep those lines of communication open.