Today’s Foo4’s Favs features the perfect website for parents who want to know the good, the bad, and the ugly about the media their kids are exposed to. Want to know if there’s foul language in a book/song? Is the message a good one, rather than a glorification of sex/drugs/Hannah Montana? Common Sense Media is the place to turn to for ratings and reviews from a parent’s perspective.
The best part about CSM is that they don’t just say if something’s good or bad. They’ll give you two ratings — one from parents and one from kids — as well as specifics on questionable content. There are eight categories they look at:
Educational Value: What’s the risk of my kid actually learning something (history, politics, science, etc.) without realizing it?
Message: Is the overall message of the story/song positive — or even something I want my kid exposed to?
Role Models: Are the heroes of the story (or performing artists) good role models that promote positive characteristics?
Violence and Scariness: On a scale of 1-5, 1 being a slap-fight between a couple of weaklings and 5 being murder and mass destruction, how would you rate this?
Sex: Is this a kissing book? What base are we talking about here? Will there be any naked bummies?
Language: Is anybody dropping the f-bomb or taking the Lord’s name in vain?
Consumerism: Are there product placements? Will there be mega merchandising (action figures, lunchboxes, breakfast cereals, etc.) surrounding this?
Smoking, Drinking, & Drugs: Is there any? If so, who’s doing/talking about it — the good guys or the bad guys? Is it portrayed as something bad or cool?
If you register and become a member, you can offer your own media reviews. The more people who contribute, the wider the database gets. You won’t find everything, but most of the stuff that appeals to kids/teenagers is on there. I used this site extensively when helping a friend find suitable reading material for her tween. This is the one site I’ve found that will give honest reviews of content as well as quality.
Oh, and they do games, websites, and TV, too. Check it out.