5 Smart Websites to Visit Today

With so much time wasted on status updates and celebrity gossip, it’s easy to forget that the internet can be used for higher purposes. A tip of the hat to the following websites for appealing to the better, more intelligent nature of web surfers everywhere:

1. Nationalgeographic.com

Based on the well-known magazine, this website gets five stars for being both entertaining and educational while appealing to all age groups. Adults can catch up on the daily news, read travel information, view maps or browse breathtaking nature photography on the site. Children can learn unusual animal facts, enter contests, watch videos, or take quizzes in the special kids’ section.

2. MIT Open Course Ware (ocw.mit.edu/) & Livemocha.com

Both websites earned spots on Time magazine’s ’50 Best Websites of 2009′ list for their high-tech contributions to education. Take MIT courses and watch web seminars at Open Course Ware or beef up your resume by learning a new language at Live Mocha. The best part of the deal? These sites offer top-notch education free of charge.

3. YourDiseaseRisk.com

With unlimited medical information available on the web, it’s often difficult to determine which sites are reliable and which ones have hidden agendas (Try my product for 30 days-for free!) This site, however, was created by a Harvard doctor and empowers users to learn about their risk levels for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and stroke. In addition to risk evaluation, the website includes important information on prevention, screening, and treatment.

4. Lumosity.com

Comparable to the ‘Brain Age’ video games, users at this site can train their brains to improve mental functioning in areas like flexibility, speed, attention, and problem solving. Although some services require paid subscriptions, this site offers plenty of free activities to help keep your mind razor-sharp.

5. Lizardpoint.com

Recent surveys have shown that many Americans are not well-informed in basic geographic literacy. With multiple quizzes available on continents, countries, major cities, capitals and oceans, Lizardpoint.com makes learning geography and map skills enjoyable for adults as well as older kids.

6. Starfall.com and Pbskids.org

Parents and teachers alike are falling for educational websites made specifically for kids. Starfall, first created in September 2002, helps kids develop early reading skills through phonics. Pbskids.org includes great interactive games that allow youngsters to learn with their favorite television characters like Elmo, Curious George, and Clifford the Big Red Dog.