- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 3, 2001

Raising children can be one of the most daunting, as well as rewarding, aspects of life. Thanks to the Internet, parents around the globe have an easy way to discuss common problems. One cyber-stop has spent five years listening and speaking to parents through a community environment filled with tips, humorous insights and sound information.


Site address: www.parentstalk.com


Circle 1 Network, based in Milwaukee, publishes ParentsTalk and KidsCom (www.kidscom.com), the longest-running edutainment site on the Internet.

Creator quotable:

"We created ParentsTalk to be an online community for moms and dads to learn more about kids and get help with parenting and bringing families closer together," says Jorian Clarke, president and founder of Circle 1 Network. "ParentsTalk is the only site that shows parents what kids are thinking and saying by sharing kid-provided content from a site dedicated to children (KidsCom), hopefully helping parents to better understand their own children."

Word from the Webwise:

This online community caters to moms and dads of all generations. It succeeds by combining parents accounts of their problems and triumphs with plenty of helpful advice and encouragement.

The sparse opening page presents a top menu bar offering six sections: "Family Fun," "Experts´ Advice," "Through Kids´ Eyes," "Recipes," "Market Place" and "Message Boards." The body of the page contains colorful boxes highlighting special areas, such as projects the whole family can make together or important topics, such as "Toy Safety Tips," with internal links to the latest product recalls.

I began my journey for parental enlightenment in "Experts´ Advice," which contains information on child health, toddlers, family health, fertility and conception, financial planning, day care and family safety.

The site´s articles come from a range of sources, such as Nancy Harvey Steorts, former chairwoman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission; Elizabeth Pantley, author of "Perfect Parenting, Kid Cooperation"; and the staff of Waukesha (Wis.) Memorial Hospital.

I found the information on family safety especially useful, with articles on fire in the home, smart advice on dogs, car-seat protection, poison precautions, carbon monoxide poisoning, emergency vacation help and even tips for women driving alone.

One interesting section that makes the site stand out, "Through Kids´ Eyes," gives parents a look at the thoughts and interests of youths from around the world through answers children have left at ParentsTalk´s sister site, KidsCom.

Unaware parents will learn quickly about the latest generation´s feelings on guns in school, the importance of voting and their favorite musicians (Britney Spears and Destiny´s Child reign supreme), movies and celebrities. In addition, the section provides stories about children, relayed by caregivers who cannot believe how cute they are.

Finally, the site´s message boards not only allow parents to post comments (those interested must register) and connect to others, but also to peruse messages on topics such as divorce, peer pressure and life with a newborn.

Ease of use:

The fact that most of the site has content provided by visitors makes it a very real and interesting environment to peruse. Banner ads only promote other parts of ParentsTalk, and the smaller amount of content allows visitors to identify places of interest quickly. The sites menu bars, lists and map make navigation painless.

Dont miss:

Parents trying to keep the family dining experience alive will appreciate the voluminous "Recipes" section for a rundown of fun foods that everyone can help prepare. More than 200 ideas are available, presented by ParentsTalk visitors to keep the taste buds dancing with main dishes, salads, appetizers, side dishes, soups, sauces and desserts. Mom and dad can keep junior at the table with Crescent Mexican casserole and choco-mint brownies.

Family activity:

The "Family Fun" section is devoted to getting the entire clan involved in crafts, games and projects. Away-from-the-computer fun from building a finch bird feeder to orchestrating a picnic to throwing a childs party (surveys seek the best ways to do it) to learning the Irish card game 25 can be found for everyone.

Overall grade: B+

Remember: The information on the Internet is constantly changing. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it´s accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician. Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message [email protected]).

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