“Should My Kid Watch That?” Unless you just love watching kids shows in your free time, previewing every single show or movie your kids want to watch is almost impossible. But if you’re like me, you do want to make sure that their media diet is fairly healthy. What you choose to let your kids watch is a very personal choice based on your values and beliefs but making that choice shouldn’t involve hours of your time or leave you feeling out of control and just pushing play. Need a quick way to evaluate all your children’s media options? It’s not as hard as you think.
My Favorite Tool for Evaluating My Kids’ Media Choices
A couple of years ago I discovered Common Sense Media, a tool to help you evaluate the media your kids want to watch. It’s like a nutrition label for all the computer games, videos, apps, books and websites that your kids are asking for but you’ve never heard of. It’s a free website run by a nonprofit company who wants to empower parents to make good choice about media and technology for their kids. Available both online and as an app, Common Sense Media has reviews of thousands of media products and is easy to search through by title or age recommendations. It’s been the easiest way for me to figure out what I want to let my kids watch or download.
- Each review gives a plot summary and includes things parents need to know like language (including the specific words used), difficult topics, or scary scenes.
- A rating system for various things like sexy stuff, violence, language, educational value, and positive messages.
- Age recommendations – including the ability to sort titles by age range. I don’t always follow their age recommendations but it gives a nice comparison tool.
- A “Families Can Talk About” section with discussion prompts and questions for talking about the movie and its themes.
- Parent and kid reviews for further information about how a variety of people felt. I find these to be helpful especially for evaluating if something will be too scary for my kids.
- Curated lists of best movies (Best Movies for Sleepovers, Best Movies with Inspiring Teachers, etc.), tv shows, and apps. There are even lists based on what’s streaming on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
- Parenting resources about best practices with kids and media – I can see this being really helpful as my kids get older and are more independent in making their technology choices.
Common Sense Media makes it easy to develop a healthy relationship with your kids and media. You can model being a healthy consumer of technology and even involve them as they get older in thinking through their own tv, movie, and computer game choices. I love that I can make an informed decision quickly when my kids are asking to check out something new. So save your free time for more important things (like you’re own Netflix binging) and make it easy to put quality choices on your children’s screens.
Have you tried Common Sense Media? Any other recommendations for helping parents make smart choices about their kids’ media? I’d love to hear if you have other tools that have been helpful.