I recently became aware of the Common Sense Media and I am extremely glad I found it. The site provides detailed reviews of media and other useful tools to help parents and children make age-appropriate media choices. Their mission is: “We rate, educate, advocate for kids, families, and schools” and “We believe in sanity, not censorship”.

The site can be browsed by entertainment type:

  • Movies
  • Games
  • Apps
  • TV shows
  • Books
  • Music
  • Websites

The site has recommendations for titles:

  • that inspire the kids to change the world
  • with strong female characters
  • for special need and learning difficulties
  • that are hidden gems
  • and many, many other useful categories

Here are some examples on how we used the Common Sense Media site so far.

My children don’t watch cable TV as we don’t have it. However, we get DVDs and books from the library, we have Netflix, and we have apps on the iPad (although we rarely allow them to use the iPad).

My daughter, who is almost 3, likes to watch Pocoyo on Netflix. My son, who is almost 6, liked watching it too until recently. My husband and I thought it was a good show for their age. We checked out the reviews for Pocoyo on the Common Sense Media and the following fragment is part of what we found:

“Pocoyo exhibits negative traits that are common for this age group (preschoolers), including selfishness and frustration over not being able to do something his friends can, but each story shows how he identifies the problem and works to fix it. The show’s brief format also encourages TV time limits for this age group, allowing kids to watch the story unfold and conclude in fewer than 10 minutes.”

We are big fans of the “Don’t let the pigeon…” series of books written by Mo Willems. Here is a fragment of what Common Sense Media says about them:

“Parents need to know that with cartoon style pictures and an interactive story, this is just the sort of silliness that will appeal to a preschooler or lower elementary school-age child with a sense of humor.”

My son watched The Lego Movie last year when he just turned 5. This is a fragment from what the Common Sense Media says about it:

“Parents need to know that The LEGO Movie is an action-packed animated family-friendly adventure following original and existing LEGO characters. Featuring an all-star voice cast and some of the brand’s most popular figures (Batman, Superman, Gandalf, Wonder Woman, etc.), the inventive movie should appeal to all ages, from young Duplo players to teens who consider themselves Master Builders.”

Based on the reviews on Common Sense Media, we put some documentaries, inspiring movies, and books on hold at our local library. I am looking forward checking them out with my kids!

Common Sense Media also includes (among many, many other things):

  • the age for which a title (movie, books, app, etc.) is appropriate
  • an overall quality rating for each title
  • questions that incite families to talk about their entertainment
  • “best of” lists for each title, including “best of for learning”

For each title, Common Sense Media indicates the age for which a title is either appropriate and assigns an ON (“content is age appropriate for kids this age”), PAUSE (“know your child; some content might not be right for some kids”), or OFF (“not age appropriate for kids this age”) rating.

It is hard to describe the entire Common Sense Media website in one article, as the site is complex and you would just have to see for yourself and take away whatever you find interesting for your and your family. However, I hope I encouraged you to check it out for yourself as I think you will find it useful as I did.

What do you think? Is this a site that you would like to use or you are using already?


Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net