Yes, there’s more to the Web than MySpace.com. Here are a few sites that’ll let teens explore new online territory without keeping their parents up at night with worry.
Need a break from the books? Give yourself five minutes on this site to play ping-pong, make monkeys dive off a cliff, or shoot kittens out of a cannon. You’ll have to put up with some ads, as well as a few truly bad games, but that’s the price you pay for free gaming.
Are your bookmarks getting out of control? Del.icio.us lets you keep a collection of favorite links on a Web page that you can access from anywhere—home, school, or a friend’s house. Tagging each entry allows you to filter and sort sites easily. Plus, you can see what other people who like the same stuff have tagged, and discover something new and cool.
Think of it as a more intimate version of MySpace. Facebook lets you post stats, pictures, and information about your favorite music, TV shows, and movies. Friends can leave messages for you on the Wall. And the best part: it’s only open to high-school and college students. To get in, you need either a .edu e-mail address or an invitation from someone within the network.
Writing a paper on hurricanes? Curious about the difference between beam, arch, and suspension bridges? No matter what the topic—UFOs, hypnosis, or microprocessors— HowStuffWorks can probably tell you what you need to know, and often more than you ever needed to know.
This site is like a best friend who knows you inside out. Tell Pandora your favorite song or artist, and it will set you up with a streaming radio station that it thinks you’ll enjoy. Pandora uses melody, harmony, rhythm, and other song attributes to find tunes that match your tastes, with the hope of breaking you out of the musical doldrums.
Here’s something that will both pass the time and help you exercise your brain. Web Sudoku offers puzzles for every level—easy, medium, hard, and evil. Plus it keeps track of how long each puzzle takes you, your average solving time, and how your speed compares to that of other solvers.