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Media Literacy – “Common Sense Media” a Great Online Resource

Have you been wondering if the latest Fockers movie is something your youngster should see?

Thinking about a Wii or Kinect Box so as to get your child out from behind the computer and up and moving?

Or have you been wondering just what steps you should be taking to ensure your child is safe online?

Better yet, have you wondered why Doritos, Oreo’s and M&Ms have such significant levels of brand equity among 8-12-year-olds?

Digital Generation

We cannot kid ourselves. When it comes to digital media, our children are hooked.

Today, our children spend more time interacting with digital media than they do with their own families. They also spend more time daily with digital media than they spend in school.

But thankfully, parents as well as educators have an excellent resource to assess all things digital: Common Sense Media.
Under the leadership of CEO and founder James Steyer, Common Sense Media seeks to provide trustworthy information that can help families make educated decisions regarding the media their children will consume.

First and foremost, Common Sense Media recognizes that our children are smitten by all the digital opportunities being provided today. Therefore, the organization’s core beliefs set aside any notion of censorship and replace it with sound advice that allows for effective decision-making.

Among their ten belief statements, two in particular make clear the philosophical stance from which the organization operates:

  • We believe in teaching our kids to be savvy, respectful and responsible media interpreters, creators, and communicators. We can’t cover their eyes but we can teach them to see.
  • We believe that the price for free and open media is a bit of extra homework for families. Parents need to know about the media their kids use and need to teach responsible, ethical behavior as well as manage overall media use.

Family Resources

On the web site families will find links to exemplars: Best Movies, Best Video Games, Best Apps, Best Websites, Best TV, Best Books, and Best Music. In addition to those best lists, the site offers parents interested in a particular movie, game, web site, book, or television that did not make the best lists hundreds of additional reviews on the site.

As but one example as to the insight available, video game reviews feature a 1-5 rating system on each of the following basic categories: ease of play, educational value, online interaction and role models. Furthermore, parents will find a second set of basic assessments on items that frequently cause concern: messages provided, level of violence, sex, language, consumerism and drinking, drugs, & smoking.

In addition, parents will find Common Sense Media’s suggested age for which the game is appropriate and one of three overall basic ratings: on, iffy, or off. But also included on the site is feedback from users, parents, educators, and of course, kids.

For parents wanting to promote a more active lifestyle, the site offers a number of links to games that help everyone in the family stay active. Recommendations are set forth for the new hands-free active gaming with Microsoft’s Kinect as well as Best PlayStation Move Games, Best Wii Games, and Best Wii Balance Board Games.

A multitude of other resources are available and grouped by grade level, topic, and type of digital media. Once registered parents can participate in community based discussions regarding a topic or question of their own concern.

Educational Resources

In addition to helping provide parents insight about specific digital products, the site offers a number of educational related links. The idea is to help provide resources for both parents and educators around the issue of new media.

Thus parents will find a number of instructional videos on such topics as Tuning Out Junk Food Ads, Setting TV Time Limits, Talking About Advertising, Cartoon Violence, Setting Internet Filters, All About Avatars, Staying Safe Online, Checking Browser History and The Truth About “Sexting.” Links to additional resources for educators can be found on the site including grade level appropriate learning materials to help provide youngsters digital lessons in Safety and Security, Digital Citizenship and Research and Info Literacy.

If there is a question to be had regarding media and children, Common Sense Media addresses it or provides visitors a forum space to seek an answer.

1 comment

1 Jeanne S. { 01.08.11 at 3:55 pm }

Thank you very much for compiling such relevant information for teachers and parents. I will be sure to share this information with the parents of my students. Thank you.

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