Monday, January 2, 2017

In the Dark No More: Common Sense Media App

As a parent with a degree in Educational Technology, I always thought that I knew everything that was needed to protect my teen son from inappropriate content on different media platforms. The reality is that digital natives know much more than us, parents, who are still considered digital immigrants. When my child was younger, I always tried to ensure that my house was child proof and that there were no risks around the house or places that he visited in which he could get unintentionally hurt.

When we were in unknown places, I made sure he stayed close to me and that no harmful influences were coming his way. This all changed as soon as I gave him a phone. Online environments are still so foreign to me as a parent. I am at times, clueless regarding where my child goes, what content he is exposed to, and what kind of games and reading he is doing. As a working parent, I really don't have much time to invest in checking in detail the games he plays, books he reads, and movies he wants to watch. I am so thankful to have the Common Sense Media App on my phone.

 1) Movie Ratings 

 My son is already old enough to go to the movies with friends without adult supervision. When my son is invited to watch a movie, parents always tell me not to worry because the kids will see a PG-13 movie. Many people always use the movie ratings as a reference. I have learned the hard way that the PG-13 of today does not necessarily meet my standards for what I think is appropriate for my son to watch. I go to my Common Sense Media app and type in the name of the movie. The review gives you several categories of what happens in the movie so you can decide if the content is appropriate. Here is a sample of the thorough review you will get for movies, games, books, and apps that your children want to watch or install on their devices.

2) Video Games & Books 

As children get older and they start making their own purchases for video games and books, they want to try out things that seem fun and entertaining without giving a second look to the value of the content they will be playing with or reading about. I had to be the voice of reason at a gaming store with my teen son who kept trying to get video games that were too violent or mature for his age. I spent a long time entering the names of the games he wanted to get into my Common Sense Media App and seeing their ratings to approve purchases. The same was true for Kindle Books, as a title that sounded exciting to read had inappropriate sexual content I did not want him to be exposed to.

We are not alone in this jungle of unknown media content. Common Sense Media empowers us to make decisions and protect our children in the real world and well as the virtual world. I give this app the APProved seal for parents!

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