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Websites Recommended By the Partnership

How to Evaluate Information on the Internet

Looking for Information Online? Be Careful: Millions of consumers use the Internet to get information about issues affecting their family. And, thousands of websites, blogs, and social media sites offer information. Some of these sites are reliable and up-to-date; some are not. How can you tell the good from the bad?

Who Runs the Website? A reliable website should make it easy for you to learn who is responsible for the site and its information. Information about who runs the site can often be found in an "About Us" or "About This Site" section, and there's usually a link to that section on the site's home page.

What Is the Purpose of the Website? Is the purpose of the site to inform? Is it to sell you a product? Is it to raise money? If you can tell who runs and pays for the site, this will help you evaluate its purpose. Be cautious about sites trying to sell a product or service.

What Is the Source of the Information on the Website? Always pay close attention to where the information on the site comes from. Many websites post information collected from other websites or sources. If the person or organization in charge of the site did not write the material, the original source should be clearly identified. Be careful of sites that don't say where the information comes from. 

Good sources of parenting and health-related information include:

  • .gov sites that are sponsored by the federal government, such as MedlinePlus.
  • .edu sites that are run by universities such as Go Ask Alice from Columbia. 
  • .org sites that are maintained by not-for-profit groups whose focus is providing information to the public, such as Kids Health

How Is the Information on the Website Documented? In addition to identifying the original source of the material, the site should identify the evidence on which the material is based. Facts and figures should have references and opinions or advice should be clearly set apart from information that is based on research results.

How Is Information Reviewed Before It Is Posted on the Website? Information websites should give you information about the credentials of the people who prepare or review the material on the site.

How Current Is the Information on the Website? Websites should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis. It is important that information be current, and that the most recent update or review date be clearly posted. Even if the information has not changed, it is helpful to know that the site managers have reviewed it to ensure that the information is still valid. Click on a few links on the site, if a lot are broken, the site may not be kept up-to-date.

What Information About Its Users Does the Website Collect, and Why? Many websites track the path you take through their sites to determine what pages you are using. And, some websites may ask you to "subscribe" or "become a member" - your subscription or membership will allow the website owners to collect personal information about you!

Any website asking you for personal information should explain exactly what the site will and will not do with your information, which should be spelled out in its Privacy Statement. Be sure to read and understand any privacy policy or similar language on the site, and don't sign up for anything you don't fully understand.

How Does the Website Manage Interactions with You? There should always be a way for you to contact the website managers with problems, feedback, and questions. The site should provide contact information on its “Contact Us” page. If the site hosts a chat room or other online discussion areas, it should tell you about the terms of using the service. Is the service moderated? If so, by whom, and why? It is always a good idea to spend time reading the discussion without joining in before becoming a participant.

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