By Kristin Stanberry
As a parent of a child with learning problems, where do you seek information and advice? If you're reading this article online, you'd probably say the Internet is a key resource. Through the Internet, one can access hundreds of websites offering information on child health and development, education, and special needs. You can also shop for books, toys, and educational products.
While the Internet is a rich source of information, it isn't well regulated. It's critical that you know how to determine if a site is credible, trustworthy, and appropriate for your needs. This is especially true when it comes to information and services that involve your child. Let's take a step-by-step approach to evaluating a website you visit for the first time.
You probably wouldn't buy a book without knowing something about the author who wrote it or the institution that published it. Likewise, when you review a website, you'll want to know something about the people and organization behind it.
Every website has a unique domain name consisting of the main identifier (such as "NCLD" in NCLD.org), followed by a 3-letter suffix (such as ".org"). The suffix tells you something about the website and its sponsor. Some of the most common suffixes include:
.edu - educational institutions
These sites often sponsor universities and research institutes and post content related to their research focus. If a faculty member's name appears in the URL, it may mean the university sponsors this as a personal page for a professor but doesn't necessarily endorse the content posted.
.gov - government agencies (federal)
These sites usually present factual information and have built-in checks and balances to ensure the information posted is accurate.
Unfortunately, the assignment of the certain suffixes isn't well-regulated, so a suffix may not accurately reflect the nature of a website. This uncertainty underscores the need to evaluate each site carefully. Unregulated suffixes include:
.org - organizations (service-oriented, nonprofit)
Be sure to read the organization's mission statement to understand its underlying values which may influence the content. The fact the group is nonprofit doesn't automatically mean the content it posts is accurate.
.com - commercial business
These sites promote and sell products. Such a site may post information as public service as long as it doesn't conflict with any of the products being promoted. This can skew the information presented, so that you may not get a complete, balanced view. Some commercial companies present themselves as nonprofits by using the .org suffix.
.net - network organizations
It's hard to tell much about organizations that sponsor these sites. Such a site might be sponsored by a network provider, a commercial organization, or even a nonprofit group.
Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you more
insights to help you help your child succeed.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.