Blog Posts by Common Sense Media

  • 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 --

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  • 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 places,

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  • 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 nonstop tunes.

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  • 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 obsessing

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  • 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 social skills

    It's easy

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • Your Essential Guide to the All-Time Best Movies for Kids and Teens

    By Common Sense Media editor

    Essential Movie GuideEssential Movie Guide


    Sometimes there just isn't enough time to sort through thousands of movie choices, wondering which ones are high quality, OK for your family, and not boring for parents. This list is just a snapshot of some of the great movies in Common Sense Media's new Essential Movies Guide. Now you'll know just where to turn when you're looking for great films.

    Whether you stream, buy, or rent, this list will help make any movie night a success for kids and parents. And if you want even more ideas, check out the full guide for 185+ of the best movies appropriate for kids from toddlers to teens.

    So grab some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy. Happy viewing!

    For 2- to 6-Year-Olds

    Animated Favorites: My Neighbor Totoro

    In this breakthrough anime film, Satsuki and Mei move to the countryside where their mother is hospitalized. One day, Mei meets a rabbit-like creature she calls "Totoro," who helps them through their difficult time. A true family film,

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  • How to Stop Your Babysitter from Texting, Sexting, and Tweeting on the Job

    Common Sense MediaCommon Sense Media

    By Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media editor

    It used to be that the worst thing a babysitter could do was raid the refrigerator. But this was before Facebook, texting, social media, and emojis. Today's sitters sneak -- or outright flaunt -- something many of us parents don't know how to deal with: constant texting, Instagramming, You-Tube-watching, you name it. So how do you dole out the rules?

    Of course, the most important thing is that your kids are safe while they're under someone else's care. You might think the worst could never happen to your kids, but mobile devices just make getting distracted even easier, and that can have tragic consequences. Less severe than a major accident, but still disturbing, would be finding out your babysitter texted all night and ignored your kids.

    Here are a few things to keep in mind when talking to your babysitter about your texting, sexting, and tweeting rules:

    Spell it out. Teen and young adult babysitters have grown up with

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  • 10 TV Shows that Are Actually Good for Girls

    Try these shows with awesome female role models.Try these shows with awesome female role models.By Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media TV editor


    Girls deserve so much better than much of what they see on TV. First, they deserve to see more girls and women on the screen in the first place -- only 30 percent of kids' TV characters are female, according to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media. And when girls or women do appear on-screen, they are still heavily stereotyped and sexualized -- portrayed in traditional roles or wearing sexy clothing -- in both kids' TV and prime-time shows.

    This lack of great female role models in the media has a negative effect on kids -- both girls and boys. But parents have the power to filter out at least some of the negative images and messages and replace them with shows that kids will enjoy and that show female characters as strong, smart people with something positive to offer the world.

    Check out this collection of great shows both old and new, and program that DVR!


    Sheriff Callie's Wild West, age 3+
    Callie calls the

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