You've read the Hunger Games triology ... now what? We've gathered our picks of other dystopian novels -- books that imagine a not-so-rosy future under a menacing and oppressive regime, where teens and other folks must rely on their wits, courage, and strong friendships to survive. You can also check out our science-fiction, fantasy, and thiller recommendation lists to find even more choices for kids, tweens, and teens.Read More »from 20 Books for Hunger Games Fans
Blog Posts by Common Sense Media
Regan McMahon, COMMON SENSE MEDIA
When R&B singer Chris Brown was arrested for beating up his then-girlfriend Rihanna in February 2009 and later pleaded guilty to an assault charge, parents were blindsided by the situation and presented with a teachable moment. We faced a choice: Either say nothing, and let our kids make sense of the news themselves, or talk to them about the difficult and complex issues of domestic violence and whether celebrities make good role models.
Three years later, the troubled couple has made news again, and it may be important to have another talk. This week, these two dubious role models revealed leaked (via Twitter) steamy remixes of two singles, his "Turn up the Music" and her "Birthday Cake," each featuring a vocal by the other.
What's troublesome is whether Brown -- who enjoyed a squeaky-clean image before what he has called his "big mistake" -- feels genuine remorse and has changed. Is Rihanna, who broke up with Brown afterRead More »from Chris Brown and Rihanna: Remixed Messages
- Common Sense Media | Parenting – Mon, Feb 13, 2012 2:41 PM EST
During a recent evening of channel surfing, I was pleasantly surprised to come across Splash. Ron Howard's 1984 comedy about an Everyguy (Tom Hanks) who falls for a mermaid (Daryl Hannah) is a movie I loved as a kid, and I hadn't seen it in a long time, so I happily started watching. Apparently it really had been a long time, since I'd forgotten just how racy some of the humor is, from shots of Hannah running around naked to her heavily implied "afternoon delight" with Hanks' character to co-star John Candy's habit of dropping coins to look up ladies' skirts. Let's just say I don't think it would be a shoo-in for a PG rating these days.
Movies you remember as being innocuous when you were young may have iffier stuff in them than you remember -- or maybe it's just been ages since you saw anything other than the edited-for-TV version. To help you avoid getting blindsided by something totally age-inappropriate (or even just awkward) when you play your old faves for your kids, hereRead More »from Watch Out! "Family Movies" with Surprisingly Sexy Scenes
Bob the Builder, Dora the Explorer, iCarly -- these are the characters our kids are growing up with, and the examples they set can make a big impression on kids' developing minds.
As parents, we want to steer our kids toward the best possible role models -- the folks who might not always be perfect but who are thoughtful, kind, and maybe even a little inspirational. And, usually, we want to guide kids away from the worst role models -- the ones who can be cruel, shallow, and rude.
Luckily, there's a lot of good stuff out there if you know what to look for. We've picked some of our favorites below. Complement these TV role models with real-life people who make a personal impact on your kids, and point out the qualities you want your children to emulate.
- Manny, Handy Manny (3+)
Why he's great: Manny is a model of generosity and community spirit. He's always willing to help out a friend or neighbor, and he helps negotiate conflicts between his talking tools. AndRead More »from 10 Best TV Role Models
What Are Kids Learning from TV Characters?
When it comes to sex, violence, drinking, bullying, and other sensitive topics, you want messages about right and wrong to come from you -- not, say, Snooki from Jersey Shore.
But surprisingly, Snooki might be more of an ally than you think. Talking about TV characters and their choices can be a great way to start conversations with your kids about their own behavior. We encourage you to get familiar with the characters kids are watching -- whether you love or hate them -- and sneak in a little parental direction between Snooki's visits to the bar.
1. Snooki, Jersey ShoreRead More »from 10 Worst TV Role Models
Why's she's bad: Not only is she not the brightest bulb in the bunch, but she drinks constantly and to excess. And while her drinking sometimes gets her arrested or leads to iffy sexual behavior, she gets lots of attention (and a big paycheck) for her antics.
Why it matters: Kids who watch shows with alcohol use are more likely to try drinking than those
- Common Sense Media | At Home – Mon, Jan 30, 2012 3:59 PM EST
There's only one thing that can upstage Tom Brady throwing a 50-yard touchdown pass: a supermodel getting her naked body painted by Jillian Michaels. That's what Internet domain registrar GoDaddy.com will be treating audiences to in its Super Bowl ads this year. With more than 100 million viewers on game day, advertisers are willing to do just about anything to get attention. (Would you have ever heard of GoDaddy otherwise?)
The Super Bowl represents a moment when families sit down and watch TV together. We're pretty much a captive audience and can be surprised by just about anything that happens during the live game -- including the ads.
Ads impact children
America pays almost as much attention to Super Bowl ads as we do the fumble on the 3-yard line. It's become a national sport to rate the ads the next day -- in the office and in the schoolyard. This year NBC, the network hosting the Super Bowl, is planning 18 hours of Super Bowl coverage on programs includingRead More »from Sex, Beer, and the Super Bowl: Are Your Kids Watching?
How Some Parents Are Bending the Media Rules
Screen time limits. Movie ratings. Violent video games. With so many media issues to stay on top of, it's no wonder that most parents don't follow all the "rules" when it comes to kids and media use. And while some parents might brag about their media management ("We don't even own a television!"), most of us will divulge a few dirty little secrets when we're with our closest pals.
We spoke to friends and colleagues to collect their deepest, darkest media confessions, but here's the thing: None of the parents we spoke with break media rules carelessly. They've all done their research on what's great and not so great for their kids and have made thoughtful decisions about how to manage media in their households. Their decisions don't always follow the mainstream, but that doesn't mean they're bad parents. In fact, the thoughtfulness with which these parents have approached the "rules" means that they're practicing theRead More »from Dirty Little Secrets
Hugo has been making waves with families and critics since Christmas -- and now it's leading the list of Oscar nominees with 11 Academy Award nods, including Best Picture and Best Director. If you plan to catch up on Oscar faves before the big show on Feb. 26, this is the one to see -- and don't forget to bring the kids. You may have heard buzz about the movie's directing and cinematography, but it's Hugo's role models, messages, and stellar storytelling that won our hearts.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although this book-based period adventure about the art and magic of movies is rated PG, it may be a tad too mature for younger elementary school-aged kids. Between the orphaned main character (whose father dies in a fire), the looming threat of being sent to the orphanage by the mean station manager, and an extended sequence about the history of early film, it's unlikely that kids under 8 will follow the sophisticated story. Since author BrianRead More »from Is "Hugo" good for kids?
Why we got it:
I love hanging out with my kids. But I've learned that there are some activities that I enjoy a lot more than others. For instance, I love playing board games, but I loathe playing "school." Video games that we could play together seemed like a great way for us to have fun as a family doing something we could all enjoy.
What's great about it?
Since we set up the Wii, it's been even more fun than I imagined. First, creating our "Miis" or avatars -- which involves choosing facial features, hairstyles, etc. -- was the most fun we've had together in ages. It was belly laughs all around as we debated just how bald Daddy is or how thin my daughter's eyebrows are. But beyond those moments, I've seen the kids experience some deeper learning that I really value.
Cooperation: One of the first things I noticed as my son and daughter played side by side in Active Life Explorer, a semi-competitive active game, was how my daughter reacted to finishing inRead More »from A Must-Read Guide for Parents: My Kids' First