Does anyone here have experience staying in hostels?

Does anyone here have experience staying in hostels?

I'm planning a trip to san francisco (because I'm moving there later this year) and the cheapest hotel/motel rates I can find are $60/night. And those are probably in bad neighborhoods or not up to health codes or something, because the standard rate for a "low-budget" hotel (like a Comfort Inn or Travelodge) seems to be about $85/night. On the other hand, I've found four hostels that seem to be fairly clean and safe, and their prices range from $17-25 per night. Sure, you have to room dorm-style with three or four other people, and you can only take a backpack, and you have to keep it in a locker under your bed during the day, but overall that doesn't sound bad. I also think it would be interesting to meet the other guests at the hostel. From what I can tell, it seems like a lot of European kids backpacking through America stay in these places. The problem is, I can't really tell how reputable these places are, based on their websites. I've searched the internet for reviews, but haven't found much. Just hoping someone might be able to fill me in. (On hostels in general, or San Francisco hostels in particular.) My parents are not happy about the idea. They're convinced that it won't be safe. (I'm 23, but I'm female, and I'm from a white, middle-class suburban upbringing, so I guess it's a valid concern.) Thanks in advance :)
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