Blog Posts by Common Sense Media

  • Digital Life: Our Kids' Connected Culture


    5 Essential Facts of Digital Life

    Kids are the creators. It's all about participating, communicating, making music, images, videos, and posting written content. And the content that's there? Kids must be able to know if it's credible or not.

    Everything happens in front of a vast, invisible, and often anonymous audience.

    Once something is out there, it doesn't go away. Everything leaves a digital footprint.

    Information cannot be controlled. Anything can be copied, changed, and shared instantly.

    Distance and anonymity separate actions and consequences. Kids think they can get away with unethical or unacceptable behavior because they don't see immediate consequences.

    Advice & Answers


    Our kids use media differently

    We may think of our kids' online, mobile, and technological activities as "digital life," but to them, it's just life. Their world is as much about creating media as it is about consuming it. Media devices have converged and become extremely powerful and

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  • Teach Your Kids the Secrets of Smart Web Searching


    Help Your Child Search the Web Like a Pro

    "Let's google dinosaurs." Sound familiar? Searching the Web is so commonplace that even young children know what it means to "google." But when your children really need to do research for a report - or dive deeper into a subject they're interested in - it helps to know some strategies for improving their results.

    Effective online searching can make a huge difference in the quality and relevance of the content your children find on the Internet. But it takes a bit of know-how to improve the chances of getting back the information they're looking for. You can help your child search smarter - and waste less time - by explaining how to search like a pro.

    Why It Matters

    Everyone knows there's a huge amount of data on the Internet. But only a tiny fraction of this information will apply to your child's needs. While most children know how to type a keyword into Google or Internet Explorer, they may not understand that there are

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  • Best Books for 9/11




    Kids curious about what happened during and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks can check out our list of kids' books for various ages, from picture books to tween novels, that describe or touch on the tragic events of that day. These compelling stories show the extraordinary heroism of ordinary people. And one celebrates the towers before they fell, when one man dared to walk between them on a tightrope.


    Time Ryders (Alex Scarrow, 2011)
    Parents need to know that this fast-paced adventure takes the idea of time traveling to a different level, and is a hard book to put down. The first of four books (with more to follow), it centers on three time-riding agents whose mission is to save the world from the interference of other time-traveling manipulators. It does contain quite a bit of violence, and the three protagonists are endangered by evil characters and cannibalistic mutants. But overall, good triumphs over evil and the three protagonists grapple with some important issues and hard

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  • Explaining the News to Kids


    Help put the news in perspective

    Terrorist attacks, natural disasters, end-of-the-world predictions -- even local news reports of missing kids and area shootings -- all of this can be upsetting news even for adults, much less kids. In our 24/7 news world, it's become nearly impossible to shield kids from distressing current events.

    Today, kids get news from everywhere. This constant stream of information shows up in sharable videos, posts, blogs, feeds, and alerts. And since much of this content comes from sites that are designed for adult audiences, what your kids see, hear, or read might not always be age appropriate. Making things even more challenging is the fact that many kids are getting this information directly on their phones and laptops. Oftenm parents aren't around to immediately help their children make sense of horrendous situations.

    The bottom line is that young kids simply don't have the ability to understand news events in context, much less know

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  • Talking to Your Child about 9/11


    Many parents are concerned about how to talk to their kids about the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This article by Dr. Mary Pulido, executive director the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, provides comprehensive advice and practical guidance on what to say -- and do -- for parents of kids of all ages.

    As the 10th anniversary approaches, parents may worry about how to have a conversation with their child about this sad event. I recommend that you frame it in such a way that you're not producing unnecessary anxiety for your child, but providing them with enough detail to satisfy their curiosity or concerns. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, I was a provider of crisis counseling services to children, teachers, and parents under a Project Liberty grant to my agency, The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NYSPCC).

    Here are my suggestions:

    Let them know you're there to listen to their questions and

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  • Want the Ultimate What-to-Watch Guide for Teens?


    Which TV Shows Are Taking Aim at Your Teen This Fall?

    Every fall, TV networks debut a handful of new shows, and execs cross their fingers that something will stick. Many shows are rehashes of previous hits or follow a formula that's worked in the past. And occasionally something original hits the airwaves. But whether your teen is a fan of the tried-and-true or only tunes in for something really special, chances are he or she will hear about -- and maybe even want to watch -- these new network shows with strong teen appeal.

    Suburgatory (ABC)

    City kid moves to the 'burbs in edgy comedy.

    This clever fish-out-of-water comedy features a top-notch cast and plenty of edgy humor. Jane Levy (Shameless) stars as Tessa, a cool city kid who's whisked off to the supposedly safe suburbs when her dad (Jeremy Sisto) finds a package of condoms in her dresser drawer. She and her dad arrive to find a cast of wacky suburban characters (like the potroast-weilding Sheila Shay,

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  • Top 5 Ways to Get Your Family Back on Track for School

    Getting your family back on a school-year routine after a summer of staying up late, playing on the computer, and watching TV all day (and perhaps all night, if you caught the SpongeBob marathon) isn't easy.

    If you loosened your screen-time rules this summer, you're in good company. According to a Harris Interactive poll, about half of all parents say their kids watch more TV, play more video games, surf the Web more, and watch more movies during the summer months.

    But since a good night's sleep and limited media are key contributors to school achievement, somebody has to get things back on track. These five strategies can help you get a jump on things.

    Have a last blast. Plan one final session of media indulgence. Have a family movie night, a video game day, an iTunes party -- something that says "so long, summer." A media send-off gets everyone ready for the restrictions to come.

    Prepare your kids.A week before school starts, start enforcing bedtime, and turn

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  • What Are the Best Apps to Get Your Preschooler Reading?




    Learn to Read Apps

    With these learn-to-read apps, parents on the go can help their kids enter the world of independent reading.


    1. Bob Books #1 - Reading Magic
    Parents need to know that Bob Books #1 - Reading Magic is an educational experience that will gently teach your young children early phonics by teaching the sounds that letters make and how to combine them to make short words. Your children will drag the letters for the given word to the proper place below the picture, while the app sounds out the letters and reads the word aloud. Children's efforts will be rewarded when the black and white screen transforms to color and the drawings become animated. There are twelve pages and each one has four levels. You can customize the settings to suit your child's current phonics knowledge and reading level.

    2. Kids Learn to Read
    Parents need to know that Kids Learn to Read is the third in a series of pre-reading and reading apps created by Intellijoy. Cute character Tommy Turtle

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  • Parents' Tried-and-True Tips for Back To School

    Kids are returning to school this year more saturated in media than ever. From the TV to the computer to the cell phone, balancing your kids' media consumption with homework, after school activities, and play dates is no small feat.

    How do you set limits? When should you supervise online activities? How do you reward responsible kids (or give consequences for missteps)? In the tips below, our readers provide practical, do-able, tried-and-true advice you can put into practice right away.

    See How Parents Make it All Work

    Cell Phone Rules

    Say 'nighty night. "At night before bed or at 8:30, we have them turn their phones off and charge them in a certain place that's near our bedroom. They can get their phone in the morning before school."

    Don't believe the hype. "They want to know when they can get their own cell phones and iPods (even though they weren't totally sure what it was). So we've had discussions on what's neat and fun to have and what's necessary."

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  • Do You Let Your Preschooler Play with Your Phone?

    Little kids love apps -- and so do most parents. The ability to tap, touch, and swipe can lead to hours of fun, especially for tiny fingers. And sometimes, handing over your smartphone makes a tantrum magically disappear.

    Apps can teach great things -- at low or no cost. But that doesn't necessarily mean that you should always hand over your device when your little one is bored. Each swipe on a tablet or smartphone means less time spent doing all of the other activities that are good for preschool-aged development and more time spent in front of a screen. And if your kid is already watching TV or playing on your computer, it all starts to add up.

    Too much screen time can impact everything from kids' health to their school readiness. Here's how to manage your kid's app habit.


    Tips to manage your preschooler's app habit

    There are better teething devices than electronics. If your kids start to put your phone in their mouth, they're too young to use it. Find

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