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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

The (Online) Power of Women

Why women are leading the next digital revolution

by Bill Camarda

In the U.S., women now outnumber men on the Web - and they're pulling away. Since 2000, women are getting online at a rate four times as fast as men. The population of top social network sites like Facebook and MySpace is now more than 60% female. 35% of American girls own blogs: among boys, it's only 20%.

So where are the sites designed to serve this extraordinarily active female audience? Everywhere, that's where. From highly targeted parenting sites like Urban Baby to style networks like Glam, Internet destinations targeted at women are popping up everywhere. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the best of today's sites designed entirely (or mostly) for women - including some recent introductions that are worth a visit (once you've finished exploring The Online Mom, that is)!
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The big kahunas - but not to be missed

iVillage: This site's been around forever (well, since 1996, but on the Web, that's forever.) These days, after absorbing several smaller sites, they're better than ever. You'll find up-to-date content and running conversations here on just about everything, from naming your baby to finding the right clothes for your figure. Nowadays, they'll even host your own blog.

Oprah.com: Everything you'd expect is here, and quite a bit more, from the show, the magazine, and the rest of Oprah's world (we all just live in it). While you're here, make sure to check out Oprah's up-to-the minute features on Spirit/Self, Mind/Body, Food/Home, and Beauty/Style.

Great & growing networking communities

BabyCenter: Designed for new and expectant parents, BabyCenter presents loads of original, high-quality content and advice, most of it from professional physicians and other trustworthy sources. BabyCenter's library of answers is invaluable. (And, unlike most Web FAQs, this one's organized the way you're actually thinking, with sections titled "Is it safe?" "Is it normal?" and "Ready or not?") When your child hits the terrible twos, move up to their companion site, ParentCenter.com, which will carry you safely through your child's eighth birthday, offering up solutions for everything from bedwetting to happier road trips. While you're here, check out the shopping tips, or join a "birth club" to meet other parents with kids the same age as yours.

Cafe Mom: A terrific place to let off steam, ask questions, and share experiences with others facing the same challenges as you. Groups, journals, and hundreds of answers from a community with opinions on everything from separation anxiety to squeezing yourself into that too-tight bathing suit.

Kaboose: All the parenting advice and community features you'd hope for in a Mom's site -- and more activities and crafts than just about any of them.

TeamSugar: An upbeat, fast-paced, and fast-growing social networking site where young women can discuss anything and everything... meet friends, swap gossip, dish on deals and beauty secrets, comment on blogs, and more. On our last visit, 75,000 other women were there along with us: that's an active community. TeamSugar isn't just a social networking site: nowadays, it's the hub of 14 Sugar sites covering everything from food to fitness to technology.

For women in business

Ladies Who Launch: This site's completely focused on helping women succeed as entrepreneurs. You'll find all the tools, networking help, resources, and inspiration you're ever likely to need. Includes case studies, social networking features, even links to live, in-person events.

BizMe: This online e-magazine for young professional women serves up everything from job-hunting diaries to tips on elevator etiquette and personal budgeting.

Women Working: Hosted by Helene Lerner, author of Smart Women Take Risks: 6 Steps for Conquering Your Fears and Making the Leap to Success, this site offers tips and support for women at every level in any workplace. You'll find tips on everything from career strategies to finding balance, even creating backup plans if your job disappears out from under you.

Forte Foundation: Sponsored by several top corporations and business schools, this site (and its live communities in several large cities) aims to help young women get the business education, mentoring, and financial support they need to reach the top levels of corporate America.

For women who shop

Daily Candy: Free deals and daily emails, served up in an unusually sumptuous format, with an "Everywhere" edition and customized city editions for cities from New York to L.A., Chicago to Miami.

Glam: Fashion, beauty, celebrities, TV, music, movies, living, health, fitness, food, shopping, blogs, social networking, and more: everything you used to find at the checkout counter, and a whole lot more.

Redplum: An advertiser-driven site packed with good deals, sweet coupons, and usable advice on everything from beauty products to energy bars.

Surprise.com: Hand-picked gifts your happy recipients don't already own - all organized into dozens of categories that actually help, whether you're buying for a "Design Addict", "Beer Lover", "Foreign Culture Buff", or "Conspiracy Theorist."

For women who travel

Everyone knows the big travel sites - expedia.com, tripadvisor.com, and so forth. But, under the radar, there are plenty of travel sites just for women. Here are a few of our favorites:

Women Travel Tips: Literally hundreds of tips, including scores of tips for women with families, for business travelers, for teenage women travelers, and even for planning extended round-the-world trips.

Women on the Road: A wonderful site for women traveling independently or as backpackers: practical advice on everything from personal safety to getting a job overseas... and plenty of welcome encouragement.

Journeywoman: Awesome travel tips for adventurous women travelers (and those who want to become more adventurous). Don't miss the specific "what-to-wear" tips for locales from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe (where, incidentally, pants and jeans are OK in Harare, but loose mid-calf skirts will be more acceptable in the countryside).

Some great women's blogs

Millions of women now blog; thousands of those blogs are worth your time. We can't mention them all, but here are three we love - and a source for finding many more:

Judith Warner's Domestic Disturbances, at The New York Times: weekly, thought-provoking essays from (and conversations with) the author of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety (a book with, perhaps, the most resonant title of its generation).

The XX Factor: women blogging about politics at Slate, the nation's #1 daily general interest online magazine.

Blogher: Not just a community for women who blog: an endless directory of great women's voices you probably haven't heard.

We've just scratched the surface, and we'd love to hear about the sites you're passionate about. Let us know who and where you've been visiting: email us.

Bill Camarda has been writing about technology for families, kids, and others for 25 years, starting as an editor for Scholastic's Family Computing Magazine. His 18 computer books include Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies and The Cheapskate's Guide to Bargain Computing. He lives in Ramsey, NJ with his wife and 14-year old son.



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