"The first interactive guide to female adolescence" states the box. We were intrigued. Would this be a sterile recitation of the facts of life? Or an interactive knock-off of the best-selling book, The Rules? It turned out to be neither.
Picture instead an interactive, multimedia version of Young Miss magazine, add a Day-Timer scheduler, a diary and a scrapbook, and what have got? Let's Talk About Me.
Let's Talk has four major sections entitled "My Personality," "My Body," "My Life," and "My Future." With the exception of the latter, they all offer a mixture of information and fun.
In "My Personality" the program offers to shed some insight into the user's relationships with friends and family, plus provide an assessment of her romantic readiness. This section makes use of a time-tested magazine trick - the fun quiz. Starting with a quiz about parents -- which asked true/false questions like, "my parents are terminally serious," or "my parents spit on their fingers to wash my face" -- our young reviewers were hooked. One mother noted that, "this is just the kind of stuff 11 to 13 year-old girls love." Nine other topics are also covered by similar quizzes.
"My Body" was the next section we tackled. Again a quiz plays a prominent role, this time in the style of a game show. Here, a variety of questions on subjects from nutrition to reproductive and sexual awareness were posed. Correct answers were rewarded with pop culture euphemisms like "You go, girl!" Wrong answers were greeted with a "What?!" followed by the correct answer and a clear explanation. Unfortunately, the user is not given a second chance after missing.
One thing parents should be aware of is the range of topics covered here. Although all of the topics are likely be things teenage girls are thinking and talking about with each other, some parents may feel better addressing them personally at the appropriate time for their daughters.
Other activities in "My Body" were not as strong. "Hairmaster 2000", the "Ultimate Closet" and "Miss Hottie Body" failed to excite our kid reviewers, or their parents. One parent noted that this section "seemed geared toward a specific culture of girls, and promoted consumerism, worry, and stereotyping."
A section called "My Life" sounded like a real winner, promising 'intimate interviews' with 23 of the most successful women of the 90s, along with a schedule planner, diary, and scrapbook. Surprisingly, the interviews were the weakest component of this section. Many of the names were unknown to us, and what they had to say frequently came off as a succession of banalities and cliches. The real value here, was that the collection spanned a wide range of careers -- from coach to Senator -- and that all of them were regarded as important.
The final section of the program, "My Future," was fun for some of our young reviewers, but a disappointment to our parent evaluators. Instead of a set of career development quizzes, or suggestions for educational directions, this section consists of horoscopes, palm reading, crystal ball gazing, and dream interpretation.
Ease of Install / Use
The program installed without any difficulty on our review machines, with the caveat that it takes a few minutes. The program was judged by our parent and kid reviewers to be easy to use. "You can just get right in and do it!" according to one. Several areas had mildly confusing navigation problems. For example, "quit" means exit the program, rather than just quitting the current activity.
The educational value in Let's Talk is a function of form as well as substance. Given numerous studies which show that girls' use of computers falls off in this age range, almost any reasonable activity which maintains their interest in, and use of computers is arguably valuable.
The educational substance of this program is in the combination of information 'factoids' it provides about the body, the reassurance that other girls have the same questions, concerns and feelings, the mentor examples, and the diary/journal it provides that encourages self-expression in writing.
Proxy Parent Value
Proxy parent value is SuperKids' measure of how well a program grabs and holds its intended audiences' attention. Let's Talk scored very well with our nine to 13 year-old testers for initial interest. One young reviewer wrote, "I can't wait to play this game with my best friend." We haven't had the program for long enough to report on long-term or repeat use interest, but it appears promising.
Let's Talk is probably best suited for an 11 to 14 year-old girl, who likes to read magazines like Young Miss, or American Girl. Several reviewers also thought that this would make an excellent program to have as a slumber party activity.
This program is a lot of fun for girls of the appropriate age range, and also does a good job of providing information on issues that concern them. In addition, it provides another reason for them to spend time with the computer - not a bad thing at all, given survey results which show girls of this age falling behind boys in computer use.
See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Girls Software programs, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions.
|Operating System||Windows 3.1, Win95||System 7.0 or later|
|CPU Type and Speed||486/25 or faster||LC III, Performa or better|
|Hard Drive Space||5 MB||5 MB|
|Memory (RAM)||8 MB||5 MB|
|Graphics||256 color||256 color|
compatible sound card