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Characteristics of the iCarly Website and User Response to the iCarly Website


Rationale
Children today are significantly influenced by mass media as new digital technologies are continuously developed and provided to us every day. As our society has been transformed into a digital age, our lives are totally dominated by technology devices where we can be easily accessed to the media with just one finger touch. Teenagers are the ones that are mostly influenced by the media because they are the primary target audience by media companies. In fact, they are considered as the most potential group for advertising compared to others as they have less ability to understand the commercials. "Nickelodeon targest a youth audience ages seven to thirteen, this particular group is constructed as a community of consumers" (Sarah Banet-Weiser 21). iCarly, the most popular children’s television show, is one of the examples that encourage children to develop and connect through media by promoting its website online. In the episodes of their show, the casts always push the audience to go on the iCarly website where they can interact with each other and create their own user-created content. However, we need to consider how this website teaches our children about interacting with the media and how it addresses rules on Internet safety.


Research Question
Are the contents on the iCarly website suitable for children? How does the users response to the iCarly website? Does the website address any issue about Internet safety?


Research Methods
For the research, I conducted online research and content analysis in order to complete this project. Basically I searched through the internet especially Common Sense Media and tried to find the users’ response to the iCarly website. After reading several comments posted by parents and children online, I noticed that people had different opinions they want to share towards the website. Also, I carefully analyzed the website by exploring their contents and features they have on the website, as well as their production made by the audience. Then, I watched several episodes of the show to find any additional data sources that can help me to make connections to the website.


Data and Evidence
The iCarly website features animated videos with flashy graphics that are enough to captivate young viewers’ attentions. On the main page, it displays many promotional videos for the show by the casts, highlights of different episodes, and videos that are created by the viewers. Other features include characters’ blogs, photos of the cast, many flashy games, songs played on the show, and comments from the viewers. The website is based on user-created content where fans of the show create videos of their own and send out their photos they would like to share. They highly encourage the viewers to take a part of using technology and promote them to be active for the website. The website provides couple of video making tips so that the viewers can easily create and share content. The website clearly gives out an instruction on how to upload a video and explains the rules or guidelines the viewers need to follow. However, the viewers are required to send in certain release forms for themselves and anybody else who is in the video for authorization. Everything in the website is pre-approved by the site’s editors except parental permission is not required for kids to post comments on the site. The website is considered a safe place where kids go to play funny games, and watch silly videos created by fans. Parents need to know that the site is recommended for children 8 years old and up since not all the content is appropriate for kids’ ages below 8. (Common Sense Media) For example, there is an inappropriate content on the page where how they got started with their own web show. “Carly and Sam were just being soooo funny together, especially when they were making fun of Miss Briggs' pointy boobs!” (iCarly.com). There is also a lot of advertisements for promos and sales on the site but you are warned before you enter a page with ads. One thing I noticed was that the website does a little on educating children with internet safety. There is only a tiny section where you can click below the site to find about the safety guide for kids. The site is great for kids to simply enjoy, but parents need to aware that how their children interact with the media.


Thoughtful Discussion
The iCarly website is considered a generally appropriate for children where they can create and share content online under the control of parents. Children can simply log on to the website and enjoy the contents that are available for them. The site does a excellent job teaching kids to practice digital citizenship by requiring them to get signed releases for all people appear in the videos. Also, parents’ permission is required at all times submitting videos or photos besides posting comments on the site. Most of the comments that are on the website are positive.As children interact with digital media in every day, it is important to note that popular websites such as iCarly should promote and address Internet safety rules as well as educational values. "Nickelodeon is specifically set up as a place where kids can confront other parts of their lives and identities: rules, adult authority, school work. Nickelodeon is the neighborhood for hanging out, the cool place to be" (Sarah Banet-Weiser). As the iCarly website is most popular among kids online, parents need to assist in the development of educational values for internet safety.

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Banet-Weiser, S. (2007). Kids rule!: Nickelodeon and consumer citizenship. Durham: Duke University Press.

Villamagna, Dana. iCarly.com – iCarly Website Review. Common Sense Media. Retrieved April 15, 2011, from http://www.commonsensemedia.org/website-reviews/icarly.