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A Safe Surfer's Guide

There's a plethora of material out there for parents and children. Probably one of the best ways to start looking for kid-oriented sites is through a specially designed search engine. Here are a couple of choices for search engines, a selection of good sites designed just for kids, and some choices for their parents.
  • Search engine giant Yahoo! sports its own comprehensive search vehicle for kids, Yahooligans! It indexes sites by international, homework help, games, entertainment, science and sports categories. Plus, it offers some of its own content, such as information for parents concerned about cyber safety.
  • Not Just for Kids presents its own kid-friendly search engine, Rosie's Rhubarb Review, indexing Web sites by categories such as animals, fun and games, chat, science, sports and movies. Small animated creatures boogie and jive while you browse.
For Kids
  • KidsCom calls itself an "educational and entertaining electronic playground." Distinctive offerings are chats with children across the world and Mousers, interactive games for tiny tots.
  • Enter After School is one of many in the homework help category, can serve as an educational companion to kids of all ages with a sense of humor. An interactive encyclopedia furnishes history, math and science information (check out the ample dinosaur section) and there are games, too.
  • Know someone who wants to build her knowledge of the alphabet? Animabets' illustrated pages celebrate each letter with representative animated characters and objects. Get your fill of Olivetta, an ostrich opera singer, for example. Also here: educational games and puzzles.
  • Web sites are for girls! Or at least that's what GirlZone (and a host of other sites in this genre) would have you believe. With distinctive illustrations and spunky prose, GirlZone selects news so "girls can read about how the world views and defines women and girls." Bodyopolis celebrates care of the girl body. In InnerCity, post messages in "Expresso."
  • The True Colors site may prove useful to teen-agers questioning their sexual identity or choosing a nontraditional one. The organization strives to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth.
  • Teen Wire provides sexuality information from Planned Parenthood. Here you'll find candid health articles about sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, along with lobal perspectives. Offerings have included "The Making of a Slut" and "Virginity Woes."
  • Freevibe addresses a young hip audience on drugs with the most trendy of designs and speaks to kids in their own language: "Get the skinny on drugs. What are the facts? What's just hype?" Shout Out lets kids share on bulletin boards; Hang Time feeds them pop-culture news.
  • Click on Think About Drink and unleash buggle music, flushing water and bold graphics that represent the results of excessive drinking. Loud headlines blare "Blasted," "Wrecked" and "Plastered." Help yourself to some hard cold facts about alcohol abuse and true tales of teen escapades gone awry. A quiz tests knowledge of drinking's after effects.
For Adults
  • Talking to Your Kids About Drugs is part of the National Crime Prevention Council's large site with information in Spanish and about kids and guns, local initiatives as well as a list of 12 steps kids can take to curb violence.
  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children site carries a multilingual database of images and information on missing children.
  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving or M.A.D.D. sprung up as an advocacy group in 1980 after an accident claimed the life of a 13-year-old. Aside from chats and statistics, its Web site offers useful links and an ample public policy section.
  • National Families in Action provides on its Web site drug descriptions and legal news from around the world with a clear anti-drug slant.
  • The Food and Drug Administration's home page for kids offers a child-friendly design with material that parents might read about food safety, administering medicine to kids, preventing childhood poisoning, dehydration, vaccines and pets. Kids can solve a puzzle to assess their knowledge of medicine cabinet items or take a quiz on tobacco facts.
  • Parent Soup is the parent site of iVillage, known for its interactive communities. It supports parents at all stages of the parenting game with articles, chats and suggestions from experts and many interactive gizmos. Interactives include a baby name finder; a pregnancy calendar; and Pink or Blue, a game that helps you determine baby's gender.
  • Wings of Madness carries articles on depression, covering children and women, enhanced with Rphael-like illustrations. It is run by Deborah Gray, who is not a health care professional but started the site, she explains, because "I have clinical depression and have educated myself about this illness."
Other Links

Written by Marjorie Backman