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Special Report: TeenScreen: How AOL’s Teen Channel stacks up

AOL has a new section, and it's just for teens. Two questions immediately spring to mind: can it hold the attention of teens for more than a second and can it hold its own against competition on the World Wide Web?...
April 1, 1998

AOL has a new section, and it’s just for teens. Two questions immediately spring to mind: can it hold the attention of teens for more than a second and can it hold its own against competition on the World Wide Web?

The outstanding thing about the new AOL section (keyword: Teen) is that it’s definitely comprehensive. The Teen Channel gets heavyweight support from on-line versions of the magazines Teen People and Seventeen (in the Style section). There are an incredible number of links to seemingly hundreds of points of interest: background on Dawson’s Creek, book excerpts related to pressures facing teens and AOL`s renowned live chat sessions, with such stars as Andrew Keegan, who has appeared in Party of Five. It’s this sort of pulling power that has a lot of other sites cringing (and AOL subscribers smiling).

What you tend to see on the WWW is significantly different from the biosphere that is AOL. Internet sites tend to cater exclusively to one particular aspect of youth culture-such as music (mtv.com) or movies (spe.sony.com) or sports (pathfinder.com/SIFK)-because the intense competition has taken specialty sites to a higher level. More comprehensive teen sites are sites like:

React (www.react.com) is an extremely well put together location, with sections offering news (from kissing to Congress passing bills), areas to post your commentary, and, of course, the requisite section on Leonardo DiCaprio. This is a great site because it deals with topics that are top of mind and interesting to young people, and it’s nicely refined. There are plenty of entry points for people to get involved.

JetPack (www.jetpack.com) is a cool little site if only because young people are so intensely involved in its content. It takes a eclectic look at music (all types, not just the biggest stars and bands), books (such as Net Chick – A Smart-Girl Guide to the Wired World) and funky art. It’s not all mainstream and it’s very much aligned with what young people are interested in; teens often know better than anybody else what other teens want.

Which is the best site of the three? They’re all really good, and it depends on the tastes of the individual as to where he or she will go. There are two keys to success that all three of these sites possess: plenty of variety in content and well thought-out content. Yes, the new AOL site can hang, and it does so in impressive company.

In this report:
- SmartGirl Web site in the know about teenage girls
- NBA Inside Stuff gets the inside edge on teen boys
- AOL creates area for teens
- How AOL’s Teen Channel stacks up
- Teen horror movies slash their way to a comeback

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