By Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media editor
The Olympics may be the world's oldest competition, but this year's Games are getting a thoroughly modern upgrade. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other online outlets are offering new ways to experience the trials and tribulations of the athletes -- and families are the winners.
Through live feeds, athletes' blogs, message boards, photos, videos and more, you and your kids will be able to get an up-close and personal view that plain old TV can't provide. If you know where to look, how to find the good stuff and what to talk to your kids about, your family can experience the 2012 Olympic Games in a way that's fun, social, inspiring -- and even a little educational, too.
Here's your guide to the best Olympics sites for families:
This year's Games are being hailed as the "socialympics." Now's a good time to get up to speed on social media and even talk to your kids about the global role that social media is playing in the coverage.
-Official London 2012 Facebook page
At the Official London 2012 Facebook page, you can get breaking Olympics news, photo galleries, polls, and trivia. With your guidance, kids can check out the latest comments and even join in the conversation.
-NBC Olympics Page
A unique partnership between NBC Universal's Olympics division and Facebook will provide moment-to-moment coverage both on TV and on the site. Don't forget to check out the "Talk Meter," which displays the trending topics from Facebook on your TV screen!
Kids love the off-the-cuff dispatches that their favorite athletes unleash on Twitter. Your family can follow any number of official Olympics tweets (parent-approved, of course) for up-to-the-minute updates. And when Michael Phelps (@MichaelPhelps) takes another gold medal, your family can tweet a heartfelt congratulations!
Some sports, like badminton or judo, rarely get featured on TV. YouTube will be streaming these events (and others) live on NBCOlympics.com. (You have to be a cable subscriber to watch.) Here's more for families on YouTube:
-Official YouTube channel
Subscribe to this channel for a wide range of videos, including historical clips, athlete bios, and even mascot antics.
- Featured videos of athletes and stars
True fans will love watching clips of the competitors training, sharing stories, and acting silly. The Paralympics videos are incredibly inspiring and offer great messages for kids about overcoming obstacles.
Take the show on the road with mobile apps that provide round-the-clock Olympics coverage. (Check out our tips for setting limits on kids' media if things get out of hand.)
-NBC Olympics on the Go
Never miss a trick with this free download.'
-Official London 2012 apps
In addition to sports-related information, you'll find suggestions for things to do in London in these mobile guides. Also find a vast image gallery and videos from the events.
More fun just for kids
- London 2012 Mascots
Kids can follow the official 2012 Olympics mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, plus design their own mascots, play games online, and learn about new sports.
Olympic crafts, worksheets, games, puzzles, and more.
-The Guardian London 2012 Olympics Teaching Resources
The British daily newspaper offers loads of resources to teach kids about the games.
-Olympics Video Games
Bring the games home with super fun video games for all ages.
(Taryn Degnan, Common Sense Media Social Media and Community Manager, contributed to this article.)
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