Looking for sanity? CommonSenseMedia

April 20, 2012

I love CommonSenseMedia.org, and it may have just gotten better! This website provides “trustworthy information and tools, as well as an independent forum, so that families can have a choice and a voice about the media they consume.” For a few years now my husband and I have been using the site to judge the appropriateness of movies for our son (thank you CommonSenseMedia and my Facebook friends for the heads up on “Rango” not being an animated film for younger kids). And luckily, CommonSenseMedia.org has kept up with new forms of media to cover games, apps and more.

Now, CommonSenseMedia has launched Learning Ratings in which a “highly trained team rates and reviews apps, games, and websites to help you find products with the best learning potential for kids and teens.” Thank you!

While I’m pretty adamant about limiting my 8-year-old’s exposure to iPads, smartphones and computers, I absolutely see the necessity and  learning potential in all those technologies. But a big problem for me is time – I don’t have the time to scrutinize potential games for an hour or two to make sure they’re appropriate and that they maintain our family values. Therefore, I just don’t let him use the games.

That’s not really fair to my son, and I know it.

But now he and I can peruse game options together on the Learning Ratings website and talk about what will happen. In each game’s rating, you’ll find out the cost, what devices it works on, parents’ and kids’ reviews (although the feature is new, so there aren’t too many reviews yet), and (my favorite) the “what parents need to know” paragraph. This paragraph let’s you know whether the game will temp your kids to spend real money to advance faster, or how more sensitive kids might react to the game, etc. It’s the stuff another parent who you trust would tell you about the game or app.

So, I may be downloading an educational app or two soon. Don’t tell my son though. I’d rather he just think I’m in here doing my homework!

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