Kids are born with devices attached to their hands. The milestone for technology is practically non-existent. I remember begging my mom to let me get a cellphone. Then on my thirteenth birthday how proud and elated I was to finally receive one. My sister had an iPod Touch when she was five and had seemingly unlimited access to Netflix.
When my son came along, I was adamant that he wasn’t going to have any kind of device until he was older. Even after his grandfather bought him an Amazon Kids tablet, I resisted and hid it away for months. That’s just not realistic anymore. The world has changed and advanced and I’ve learned that the best thing I can do for my son is to help him learn how to safely navigate the digital world.
For the most part, I use my own judgment as a parent to decide what is appropriate for my son’s age. YouTube is off limits, I don’t see a reason why my three-year-old needs to have any access to that site. Netflix is more flexible thanks to their kids only section. I know when my son gets older it’ll be harder for me to determine what’s appropriate. A family friend suggested I use Common Sense Media, a web tool that gives reviews and ratings on all things kid.
Common Sense Media is a non-profit organization committed to helping kids succeed in the technology world by educating families and educators about how to be responsible online. Kids are surrounded by technology, it seems they spend more time online than they do with families and at school. Even schools have begun to implement more updated technology in a classroom setting in order to engage the newer generation of students. Parents can use this tool to help their kids and teens make age-appropriate choices with movies, TV shows, books and device applications. Educators can use this site as a tool to decide if a program or book will do well with their students.
The parent’s section of the Common Sense website focuses mainly on reviews and ratings on movies, TV shows and books. They also have articles and guides for the top social media apps and games. Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok were just some of the apps listed. Movies are rated with the recommended ages given. While parents should make the final choice, it does help if you’re on the fence about letting your child watch that new movie this weekend. This is a good tool, but its reviews do seem to strip movies and TV shows down to their bare bones by only warning parents about the stuff their kid should watch out for instead of giving a balanced review of the overall topic. Users can search for specific titles that include ratings on certain topics like language and consumerism.
The educator’s section offers digital tools for grades k – 12 and reviews on some of the top learning sites that are used like BrainPop and ReadWriteThink. The section lists the product or website, the recommended grade and an overall review given by Common Sense as well as reviews and ratings given by teachers. They have a professional advice tab that features articles towards helping educators prevent cyber-bullying and how to use social media to help kids learn about identity. They also have a few guides on classroom management.
There is also has an advocate’s section for policymakers which works with businesses and other organizations at a state and national level to make sure that kids across the world have a chance at success. You can learn how to take action in your community and sign-up for upcoming events. They also explain how you can contact your local lawmakers and push for change and they give updates on education in the news and resources you can look into.
Common Sense Media overall is a great site if you’re looking for a way to be better informed about the types of media you allow your children to consume. Books, movies, TV shows and apps are all included on this site as well as a lot of helpful guides to video games and virtual reality. Looking to make a change in the community? They also offer information about how you can get involved and become an ambassador. Common Sense also offers an app called KidsMedia, a smaller version of the Common Sense Media website. It has all the same content and is available free for Android, iPhone and iPad.
Learn more about Common Sense Media.