The Internet can be a scary place for parents, with as many dark alleys as flower-filled meadows. But it’s the place that children invariably hunt for answers on everything from math homework to dating advice.
Here’s a primer’s on some top sites your child might surf across. Many are great homework helpers. Some social sites are educational in ways parents may want to monitor — particularly for younger kids.
Video lectures and interactive exercises make this free site a one-stop-shop for students of any topic. Khan Academy is a nonprofit education site with lessons on subjects ranging from computer programming to art history. Parents and teachers can access a “coach dashboard” that shows if a student is struggling and thriving. (For the multilingual: Learn in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.)
A skill-based video lecture website, Lynda.com offers students classes on programs like Photoshop and InDesign, and introductions to topics like photography and graphic design. Schools (or families) can purchase subscriptions to this paid service.
It’s always a good idea to search for homework questions here. When teachers re-use materials, chances are it’s uploaded somewhere on this site — verbatim. Students can search for and study with millions of free, public flashcard sets or create their own. There’s even a program that allows teachers to enroll their own students in a specialized group where they can create and share relevant study sets.
Looking for a little more instruction on a complicated topic? Students can use WolframAlpha to walk through formulas step-by-step, quiz themselves on presidents or current world news. Start by typing in your question or subject and watch as WolframAlpha searches through its database and algorithms to compute the answer. The answer has source notes, suggested related questions and links to more information.
This tool is strictly for math, but students can practice (and answer) equations with a calculator that has tons of symbols and options to choose from. This free calculator shows step-by-step solutions to any mathematics topic covered from middle school through college. A subscription to Symbolab unlocks more options.
This study site has flashcards, study guides and 24/7 online tutors. This “open-source” education model is aimed more for college kids, who can get paid to upload notes and review courses. The more users interact with content on Course Hero, the more gets “unlocked” for them.
Yahoo Answers is like any corner of the Internet. Sometimes, other users are courteous, kind and informed. Other times they’re abrasive, crude and loudly opinionated. Usually students who search for a specific homework question will find at least one similar question posted on this site with a plea for the answer. Sometimes people give the right answer, or even better, show their work.
In the social world, you’ll find tweens and teens asking questions on anything from how to apply mascara to how to ask a girl on a date. The discussions are wide-ranging, and parents should be aware that not everything their kid may see on this site is ‘G’ rated — so some may want to monitor internet use or set web-browser security limits.
Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram
Not much homework help happens on these sites. (Exception: educational channels on YouTube.) But younger kids often feel comfortable enough to ask celebrities (or the semi-celebrities that exist within small social bubbles) for advice on social situations.
Many of these sites have content no parent would want their kid to see — so, again, monitor internet use or set security limits. But these sites also can offer safe spaces for kids to find global friends who love the same TV shows, hobbies and celebrities they do.