By Michele Brod, Md7 Lease Consultant
As a parent, I’m keenly interested in the apps my children use on their phones. Mostly, I monitor that the app is age appropriate (and how much cellular data it consumes). Online reading apps have been a life and budget saver, as my twin 13 year old girls are avid readers and it has been challenging to keep up with their appetite for new material. Toronto based Wattpad, with over 45 million subscribers every month, has taken the online reading platform several steps beyond electronic books.
Wattpad allows authors to post original works online, as a finished product or incrementally, for example, chapter by chapter. Readers create a public or private profile and can post comments, questions and suggestions which appear as a comment bubble icon in margins. Reader suggestions incorporated into the next segment of a story get honorable mention (a “shout out”) from the author. Wattpad monitors content and comments for profanity, abusive language and bullying, just to name a few online problems I’m concerned about as a parent. The company hosts online writing competitions, the two main ones are called the “Wattys” and “Just Write It.” More popular stories often spark “fanfiction,” where fans create spinoff stories of their favorite characters or side story lines undeveloped by the original author. (There have been some issues regarding fanfiction and copyright infringement, for authors of books currently printed for sale. The company works with authors and publishers to identify and remove such material.)
The most popular work on Wattpad, “After” by Anna Todd, has been published in book format and rights to “After” were acquired by Paramount Studios. Wattpad has collaborated with several publishing firms to help aspiring authors transition to print and other media. A new division, Wattpad Studios, aims to centralize and develop initiatives that give authors a chance to profit on their work.
As for my concerns as a parent? Content is restricted to age appropriate genres and I’ve barely noticed any data use for the app (less than 1 gig/month each phone line.) Additionally, my young readers have expressed interest in becoming young authors and submit to Wattpad regularly. Hollywood, here we come!
Wattpad is currently available in over 50 languages, with over 300 million story uploads and 90% of all activity occurs on mobile devices.