NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Which Web Resource for You


Which Web Resource for You

          If you “goggle” the word “parenting: the matches of info on the Web tally up to millions.  The web/internet is an almost endless source of information, knowledge, facts and figures and advice from a variety of experts.

          But how reliable are those millions of matches?  If you are seeking advice on parenting/parent-child relationships/raising your toddler or other practical guidelines for family life, how do you know what you found is sound, reliable advice?

          If you were searching the Web for A March 2008 search using the keyword “parenting” found about 270,000,000 Web sites; one using “family life” found about 1,420,000,000 sites.

          The Internet is playing a major role in family life by providing social networks or support groups that are easily accessed online. Support groups dealing with family-related issues, such as divorce, death, having a child with special needs, or depression, can be a valuable resource.

          The Colorado Extension Service has developed some simple and practical guidelines for evaluating the quality of information in family life education Web sites.

          How strong are the training and background of the author or developer?  What is the author's educational background, training and work experience in family life?  What is his or her organizational affiliation and certification or licensure in professional groups?  Some professional organizations to look for are the American Psychological Association, National Association of Clinical Social Workers, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, American Psychiatric Association, National Council on Family Relations, and American Society on Aging.

          How credible is the sponsoring group or organization?  Look for authoritative sources, ones that supply good evidence that encourage you to trust the information provided. Usually educational institutions, professional associations and professionals with demonstrated track records provide the most consistently reliable information. Web addresses for college and university Web sites end in ".edu." Public schools have "k12" in their Web addresses.

          How credible are the documented sources of information and knowledge?  Look for sources that are up to date and that provide convincing evidence for the claims made, a source with at least two other sources that support the findings.  Is the information based on the author's experience with children and youth?   Are there references to scientific sources?  Scientific information has limitations, but there is much we know about healthy and resilient individuals, families and communities. Generally, readers can be more confident of information that includes research findings and conclusions, especially research that has been replicated, as well as clinical observations and practical knowledge.

          How recently has the page been revised and updated?  Is the source a commercial organization with something to sell?  Web addresses for commercial sites usually end in ".com."   Who else links to the site? How credible are they?  Are they selling anything?

          How reasonable is the information?  Look for sources that discuss the topic thoughtfully and reasonably and are concerned with providing the truth.  Is the information fair, reasoned, objective and balanced?

          How accessible is the author or developer of the site?  Look for sources that offer follow-up interaction.  Does the author or developer include an e-mail address?   Can you contact the author or developer and ask questions directly?

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