Blog Posts by Common Sense Media

  • Summer TV You Can Feel Good About (with Activities!)

    Common Sense MediaCommon Sense Media
    By Sierra Filucci, Executive Editor, Common Sense Media

    When you think about summertime, you might think about swimming, camping, bike riding, and other outdoor fun. The reality is that summer also means lots more time in front of the TV.

    According to a recent report from the Harris Poll, kids will spend more than 17 hours a week watching TV and playing video games this summer, which is nearly triple the time spent during the school year. And, although TV shows, movies, and games are lots of fun, you might feel a bit better about the screen time if kids are watching stuff with some educational value.

    Even better, parents can help kids turn their screen time into learning time by matching activities with TV shows. We get you started below with some fun -- and smart -- ideas.

    Preschoolers

    Peg + Cat (math)
    Activity: Ask preschoolers to help with simple cooking tasks, including sorting and counting vegetables or dry beans or measuring sugar and flour for cookies.

    The Cat

    Read More »from Summer TV You Can Feel Good About (with Activities!)
  • Why Movie Musical Characters Make Great Role Models

    While your kids sing classic show tunes with everyone from Annie to Oliver, they might just learn something, too.While your kids sing classic show tunes with everyone from Annie to Oliver, they might just learn something, too.By Betsy Bozdech, Executive Editor, Common Sense Media
    Ready for your kids to start belting out something besides "Let It Go" and "For the First Time in Forever"? Try introducing them to a classic musical. Here are our top three reasons that show-tune-packed picks are great for kids:
    The music and songs get kids moving. Plus, they're often more memorable than standard dialogue -- and memorizing songs strengthens kids' listening skills.
    There's a built-in conversation starter. You can talk about the difference between speaking the words and singing them and ask kids whether they can figure out what purpose each song fills (in the best musicals, the songs always either help develop the characters or move the story along).
    Characters tend to be clearly identifiable as "good" and "bad." This can help you talk to your kids about which specific character traits are valued in your family -- and why. (There are always exceptions, of course; we recommend skipping darker titles like Read More »from Why Movie Musical Characters Make Great Role Models
  • Help Your Kids Find Books with Diverse Characters

    By Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media Book Editor

    We're seeing a positive trend -- kids of all backgrounds teaming up in stories.We're seeing a positive trend -- kids of all backgrounds teaming up in stories.

    There's been a lot of talk lately about the lack of diversity in books for kids and teens. Newbery Award-wining children's author Walter Dean Myers caused quite a stir with his recent New York Times essay "Where Are the People of Color in Children's Books?"

    The numbers don't lie (one study found that in a study of 3,200 of the 5,000 children's books published in 2013, just 93 were about black people). But as a children's book critic, I'm definitely seeing a trend in authors featuring diverse casts in the novels that come across my desk.​ What these books of all genres have in common is telling stories with diverse characters where race isn't the central issue in the storyline. Instead, the issues are solving mysteries, defeating bad guys, coping with loss, following your destiny, and more. And readers see reflected a multicultural world where it's normal for young people of different cultures and national heritage to work

    Read More »from Help Your Kids Find Books with Diverse Characters
  • 60+ Green Media Gems to Inspire Kids for Earth Day

    By Angela Zimmerman, Common Sense Media Editorial Content Manager

    Common Sense MediaCommon Sense Media
    Say goodbye to low-tech pen-and-paper Earth Day celebrations. This year, folks are using digital tools to build community and scatter the seeds of environmental awareness. Twitter and Pinterest have vibrant online offerings of eco tips and activity ideas, and NASA's #GlobalSelfie Campaign and Nickelodeon's "Get Dirty" initiative are amazing examples of how media can turn kids onto the cause. Whether you have an animal-enamored toddler, an elementary-aged nature lover, or a green-teen activist, these eco-friendly media picks will entertain, educate, and encourage all ages to get involved.


    Have an Eco-Friendly Movie Night
    These powerful family films surface the wonders of the world, from arctic climate conditions to treasures living deep within the ocean.

    Turn Kids onto Green TV
    Environmental TV can deliver sweeping views of distant scenery and offer a glimpse into the habitats of exotic species --

    Read More »from 60+ Green Media Gems to Inspire Kids for Earth Day
  • Must-Have Apps for Family Travel

    By Ingrid Simone, Common Sense Media App Editor

    Planning to take a trip with the kids for spring break? Get these apps.Planning to take a trip with the kids for spring break? Get these apps.

    Whether you're taking the kids on a day trip or a trip around the world, if you're bringing a smartphone or tablet, you'll want to be sure you have these great apps for getting them involved and engaged in your travel adventure.

    Planning your trip

    As the grown-up, you'll do most of the heavy lifting here. But in the days or weeks before you leave, letting kids get in on the planning will build their excitement and engagement about the trip. A good geography app is a fun way to help kids get a sense of where they're going and how the location relates to the rest of the world. If you're traveling in the United states, Stack the States and Learn the States with Flat Stanley are terrific choices.

    Another app that's perfect for the planning stages is Google Earth. Kids can see a satellite view of your destination, famous landmarks, and more -- all with astonishing detail. And you can opt to display information about notable

    Read More »from Must-Have Apps for Family Travel
  • Your Daily Guide to an Awesome Spring Break Staycation

    By Angela Zimmerman, Common Sense Media Content Manager

    Common Sense MediaCommon Sense Media
    Let's face it: Not everyone can go to Bermuda for spring break. But sometimes a "staycation" is just what the doctor ordered, because you can hang out with the kids and tackle spring cleaning. It's also a good opportunity to weave media and technology into your daily lives in a mindful way. Use this day-by-day guide of media picks and activity ideas to maximize every moment with minimal stress.

    A few things before spring break begins: Set limits on computer time; pick a photography app and brush up on your photo-snapping skills so you can capture memories all week long; download some road trip music for when you're piled in the car; charge up your smartphone or tablet; locate your library card; and check the weather (and adapt the schedule as needed).

    And you're off!

    Monday: Music and Movie Mayhem
    Get spring break started with kid-friendly dance songs. Try a free streaming service like Pandora or Grooveshark for

    Read More »from Your Daily Guide to an Awesome Spring Break Staycation
  • Trend Alert: 6 Messaging Apps that Let Teens Share (Iffy) Secrets

    By Kelly Schryver, Senior Education Content Specialist, Common Sense Media

    Capturing and posting casual moments seems consequence-free. But, of course, it's not.Capturing and posting casual moments seems consequence-free. But, of course, it's not.You probably never thought you'd see the day when Facebook wasn't the center of teens' universe. But keeping up with Facebook friends through ad-filled newsfeeds and lengthy profiles, especially given the fact that everyone knows your name, is starting to feel tiresome to many teens.

    Facebook is still a go-to place for many things, such as wishing someone a happy birthday or stalking a crush. However, newer social apps make it easier, faster, and more fun to capture and share fleeting moments -- sometimes anonymously. These temporary and anonymous-messaging apps provide an environment that feels more appropriate to the random, silly, saucy, and experimental sides of the average teenager.

    Perhaps most importantly to teens, these apps can feel consequence-free. But of course they're not. Data never really disappears, and anonymity carries big risks. If you don't recognize the apps your kid is currently

    Read More »from Trend Alert: 6 Messaging Apps that Let Teens Share (Iffy) Secrets
  • Making Art? Getting Healthy? There Are Kids' Apps for that -- and More

    By Ingrid Simone, Common Sense Media App Editor



    There's a seemingly endless supply of apps for practicing math, vocabulary, grammar, and other traditional school subjects. But you may be surprised to know what else kids can learn. Apps can teach a range of both "soft skills" (such as recognizing emotions) and 21st-century skills (such as online collaboration). Check out these apps in which problem solving, creativity, emotions, and more take center stage.

    Health and fitness

    Apps can help even very young kids learn about health topics relevant to their lives, such as potty training, doctor's visits, and how their bodies work. Older kids can get more in-depth information about their bodies and learn to set nutrition and fitness goals.


    Try:
    Potty Time with Elmo, age 2+
    Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel, age 3+
    Toothsavers Brushing Game​, age 5+
    The Human Body by TinyBop, age 7+
    DK the Human Body App, age 10+
    LiVe, age 10+

    Emotions and

    Read More »from Making Art? Getting Healthy? There Are Kids' Apps for that -- and More
  • Who's the Boss? My Daughter, Thank You Very Much

    By Jill Murphy, Common Sense Media Editorial Director



    During a recent meeting with my daughter's preschool teacher, the subject of "bossiness" came up. After learning about all of her accomplishments over the past few months, I feared we had just hit our first red flag.

    "She likes to 'hold court' when she's playing." Uh oh. I knew where this was headed.

    Bossy. The label that's used to identify girls who are a little too in charge. A trait I'd certainly seen in my darling -- but definitely in the driver's seat -- daughter, whose own cousins actually call her "The boss." A word that's used to keep girls from asserting themselves. A characteristic I'd wrestled with myself: on the one hand loving my leadership role, and on the other worrying about how others perceive me.

    "Are you saying she's bossy?"

    "Bossy? Absolutely not," her teacher said, rather matter-of-factly. Wait, what? "She's a leader," the teacher continued. "She makes decisions. She has a vision of what she

    Read More »from Who's the Boss? My Daughter, Thank You Very Much
  • Why You Don't Have to Put Up with Cigarette Companies Targeting Your Kids

    By Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media Parenting Editor

    E-cigs are becoming really popular with teensE-cigs are becoming really popular with teens

    Cigarette marketing has come a long way. Today tobacco products are banned from commercials and smoking is on the decline. But don't be fooled. Tobacco companies still spend almost $10 billion a year on marketing. And most of that goes to programs that make cigarettes cheaper -- meaning more accessible to kids.

    Smoking continues to show up in movies and in social media marketing. Plus, new products like e-cigs and flavored cigarettes are gaining popularity with kids. And once they're hooked, they're likely to continue the unhealthy habit into adulthood.

    So how can you counter all the messages to light up?


    Parent tips for younger kids

    · Try to keep your children away from ads and entertainment with smoking. Tell them that smoking makes people really sick - and makes them smell bad!

    · Deglamorize cigarette smoking in entertainment. Talk with your kids about smoking scenes. Ask your kids if they realize that

    Read More »from Why You Don't Have to Put Up with Cigarette Companies Targeting Your Kids

Pagination

(103 Stories)