Blog Posts by Common Sense Media

  • Best Sleepover Movies for Kids of All Ages

    Sleepover MoviesSleepover MoviesNothing says "sleepover" like popping in a great movie to watch with your best friends. Whether you have tweens who are new to the sleepover scene or veteran teen overnighters, this list of 10 great sleepover movie picks is sure to get the night off to a great start -- we've got everything from silly comedies for kids to three-hanky romances and super scary movies for teens.

    Check out our full list of 50 sleepover picks over at Common Sense Media.

    Toy Story
    *Pixar classic is one of the best movies of all time!*
    Toy Story follows the adventures of the toys who belong to a boy named Andy. His favorite is a sheriff from the Old West named Woody, who acts as the leader of the rest of Andy's toys -- including a skittish Tyrannosaurus Rex (Wallace Shawn) and Mr. Potato Head. All is going well until Andy gets a very special birthay present: a toy spaceman named Buzz Lightyear.
    For ages 4 and up
    Read our full review here.

    My Neighbor Totoro
    *Beautifully animated fantasy about friendship

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  • Yes, You Can Make TV Time Count

    By Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media editor

    Common Sense MediaCommon Sense MediaI admit I've thrown on a TV show and plopped my kid in front of the screen when I needed to get dinner on the table. And I've eked out one more hour of sleep on a Saturday morning by turning on PBS and putting out a few bowls of dry cereal.

    But on the occasions when I've sat down and watched my kids' shows with them, I've been amazed by how informative and rewarding the experience was.

    Take Phineas and Ferb, for example. I never realized how clever it was until I took the time to watch a whole episode with my 5-year-old. And I found so many things to talk about with him afterward. How did the boys solve the problem? (By working together.) Why was Candace so mean to her brothers? (Because she was embarrassed.) Do you think you'd do that kind of thing without asking Mom or Dad first? (No way!)

    When you can, watching TV alongside your kids can help you bond through a shared experience. It can also give you an opportunity to

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  • Favorite Movie Dads Kids Will Love

    Movie DadsMovie DadsBy Common Sense Media

    The greatest dads are guys who inspire us to do our best. They're men we can look up to and who always have our back, no matter what.

    If you're looking for a movie to snuggle up to with your kids on Father's Day, these movie dads -- from the earnest to the goofy -- will honor the day and create new memories in the process.

    Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird
    What makes this dad great:
    Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) stands up against prejudice even when it's difficult and in the process exposes the truth and teaches his kids the difference between right and wrong.

    Marlin in Finding Nemo
    What makes this dad great: Even though he starts out as way too overprotective, Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks) never gives up looking for his missing son. In the process he learns that by letting go, he and Nemo can build an even closer relationship.

    Mufasa in The Lion King
    What makes this dad great: Simba's guilt over his role

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  • Share Your Gift-Giving Rules Without Looking like a Control Freak

    Common Sense MediaCommon Sense MediaBy Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media Editor

    I consider myself to be pretty sensitive to other families' media rules. But birthday parties -- in my experience -- are always hit or miss. I'll never forget the horror on the face of one Waldorf-oriented father when his son opened up the plastic Toy Story 3 gadget my kid had picked out at Target. Whoops. I had no idea Woody was off-limits. But how could I have known?

    Parents can be timid about announcing their gift-giving preferences. It's always a little awkward to say, "Give us this, but don't give us that." But as toys become more commercialized and media-oriented gifts more abundant, we may need to get more comfortable asserting ourselves. If you have strong feelings about what is and isn't appropriate, there are polite and reasonable ways of getting your wishes across.

    Here are some tips for being a good gift-giver -- and receiver -- while also keeping conflict at bay.

    Be prepared

    • If you're hosting the party, let people
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  • Should Cell Phones Go to Camp?

    By Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media editor

    Common Sense MediaCommon Sense MediaWhen your kid's summer camp tells you to just pack the essentials -- swim suit, sunscreen, sleeping bag -- a cell phone is usually not on the list. In fact, it's generally on the "What Not to Bring" list. But for parents, staying in touch with our kids feels essential, and some find it's not so easy to break the habit.

    A couple of summers ago, we sent our daughter to a two-week sleep-away surf camp in San Diego with a group of girls from her school. A few weeks before departure, the girls' parents got together and someone brought up the camp's no-cell-phone-policy. One mom told how the previous year she snuck one into her daughter's duffel bag anyway and the girl got busted and had her phone confiscated. But the woman bragged that she was going to do it again this year.

    Apart from sending a dubious message that it's OK to break the rules, the mom didn't seem to understand the reasoning behind the rule.

    As explained on the

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  • The Ugly Truth Behind Pretty Pictures

    By Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media editor

    Common Sense MediaCommon Sense MediaWalk past a supermarket checkout stand near summertime and you can't help but see models and celebs in bikinis plastered across magazine covers. Tween favorites like Selena Gomez and Katy Perry appear all over the Internet in glamorous outfits with incredible hair and makeup. And ads on billboards, buses and subways display long-legged models selling everything from liquor to lipstick.

    Kids are bombarded with images of men and women -- famous or not -- who look incredibly perfect. Too perfect, in fact. And that's thanks to photo editing, which, as many of us parents know, can eliminate a model's pimples, make a celeb's cellulite disappear, and make legs longer, waists slimmer, and erase wrinkles.

    Pull Back the Curtain

    But kids aren't always so savvy. Kids who see unrealistic bodies or faces or clothing -- especially on folks they admire -- can feel inadequate as a result. In fact, several studies have shown that reading

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  • 4 Ways to Manage Summer Media with Your Ex

    By Ingrid Simone, Common Sense Media editor

    Common Sense Media"Is it that bad to let your kids watch Aliens?" My ex-husband posed this question to me -- and he was dead serious. Did I mention that our kids are 6 and 8?

    For the most part, my ex and I agree on media choices for the kids, and we try to be respectful of each other's wishes. He'll ask what I think about an app before installing it for the kids. I'll ask him about a video game he's familiar with before I buy it. And we often tap each other's memories (as well as the Common Sense Media site!) when we're picking out classic DVDs from our childhood to share with the kids.

    Figuring out media rules for your own home is a challenge in itself, but trying to find middle ground across two households and between two people who -- shockingly -- might not agree on everything, can be twice as challenging. Especially during the summer, when kids aren't in school and might be spending more time in each parent's household.

    While camp and

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  • Top 5 Sites Your Kids Will Surf This Summer

    By Julia D. Akpan, Common Sense Media editor

    Common Sense MediaCommon Sense MediaThe final school bell rings, and kids stream out of the building with nothing on their minds but three months of lying on the grass, riding bikes, going away to camp, and hours and hours of unsupervised Web surfing ... wait, what?

    Welcome to summer vacation 2012, where your kids may be envisioning a vacation packed with tech time. Since you want fun, safe, and enriching places for your kid to visit, we've rounded up some of the most popular websites for kids, along with great parent tips to help you manage their experience.


    At this micro-blogging social networking site, kids can follow celebrities, friends, organizations, and even companies like Nike or charities like Greenpeace. Kids over 13 can tweet for themselves, too. Because Twitter is easily connected to other social media outlets, teens' tweets immediately show up on their Facebook page -- or their friends' smartphones.

    • Keep an eye out: Take a look
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  • Summer Must-See Movie Preview

    By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

    Summer Movie PreviewSummer Movie Preview

    With sequels, explosive superhero adventures, and eye-popping animated flicks taking over theaters this summer, it might be hard to decide what will be worth your family's time (and money!). From the highly anticipated Marvel "dream team" blockbuster The Avengers to fresh fun with the Madagascar and Ice Age gangs, here's a month-by-month cheat sheet to help you decide which high-profile movies will be age appropriate for your kids.


    The Avengers (May 4)
    Target Age: Older Tweens and Teens
    What's the Buzz: What's better than a superhero flick? A movie about a group of superheroes, from sweet Captain America (Chris Evans) and burly Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to rakish Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and green-with-anger Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). This Marvel "dream team" unites to save the Earth from the nefarious Loki and his legions of destruction. Expect epic tween interest -- and plenty of comic book-style mayhem.

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  • WTF!? 5 Ways to Talk to Your Kids About Swearing --and Why

    Recently, my 5-year-old and I walked into a room full of kids playing video games at a birthday party. "You suck!" shouted one kid to another. "I'm going to kick your ass!" the kid yelled back. My son looked up at me with wide eyes -- he was shocked, and I think, a bit thrilled to see bigger kids using words that he still considers taboo.

    For my part, I was glad he was shocked. It hasn't been easy keeping swearing out of my kids' lives.

    For one thing, my husband and I can let a few strong words fly when we're frustrated or forget we're in the company of kids. And some of the TV shows my kids watch on Saturday mornings tend to pepper the action with words like "stupid" and "jerk."

    As kids get older, they come across strong language in everything from YouTube videos to online comments. And lately, the amount of swearing on some of tweens' and teens' favorite TV shows seems to have bumped up a few notches. Preschool-age character

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