Rather than merely watching media or reading information on the Web, kids today want to interact with media and information—and create their own. Fortunately, the scope and quality of Web sites that provide a forum for child-generated content has never been better. Are you looking for kid-friendly sites that are both educational and entertaining? Read on to find sites that provide a portal for content created by kids that will keep them engaged while they learn.
Civic Involvement and Social Networks
PBS’ Speak Out Web site, which launched during the 2008 presidential election, “is a youth collaborative project to create a digital open letter to our presidential administration.” The site encourages 6 to 12-year-olds to share their ideas on how President Obama should deal with important issues, such as health care and education. Ideas are voted on, and those receiving the highest number of votes are then “featured on pbs.org/speakout in the form of a message to our President.”
Think social networking is only for adults? Not anymore. The My LEGO Network is a social networking portal for children that allows them to “create and control” their own Web pages. “You can collect, build, and trade with virtual items. You mail with your friends, and show off your creativity to the whole wide world!” the site explains. Users can also compose music and make stickers or virtual LEGO structures.
Documentary and Photography
BYkids encourages kids to create socially conscious films. Five kids per year are paired with “master filmmakers” that act as mentors in the making of “short documentaries that educate Americans about globally relevant issues.” Kids aged 8-21 are selected from around the world to participate in the month-long projects. Film subjects are decided on by “UNICEF and a group of nationally-recognized journalists, filmmakers, teens and non-profit leaders,” according to the nonprofit organization’s Web site. Once completed, the films are distributed at film festivals, for TV broadcast and “DVD distribution, school programs and web downloads,” targeting at least two million viewers.
The nonprofit organization Kids with Cameras “teaches the art of photography to marginalized children in communities around the world.” There are many benefits of photography, including empowering children by building their confidence and self-esteem, and giving them a sense of hope for the future by tapping into their imaginations, the organization’s Web site suggests. Kids with Cameras shares children’s photos in “exhibitions, books, websites and film,” and works to improve children’s communities by partnering with “local organizations” and donating print sales.