Blog Posts by Common Sense Media

  • Easy Tips for Setting Screen Rules that Stick

    Common Sense MediaCommon Sense MediaBy Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media editor

    In many homes, getting kids to turn off their cell phones, shut down the video games, or log off of Facebook can incite a revolt. And if your kids say they need to be online for schoolwork, you may not know when the research stops and idle activity begins.

    It may seem counter-intuitive, but getting involved with your kids' media is the first step to cutting the cord. Showing an interest, knowing what they're doing -- even playing along with them -- makes it easier to know how much is too much.

    Every family will have different amounts of time that they think is "enough." What's important is giving it some thought, creating age-appropriate limits (with built-in flexibility for special circumstances), making media choices you're comfortable with, and modeling responsible screen limits for your kids.

    Preschoolers. There are lots of great TV shows, apps, games, and websites geared for this age. But too much time spent in front of a

    Read More »from Easy Tips for Setting Screen Rules that Stick
  • The Morning Rush: 9 Ways to Get Your Kids Out of the House Faster

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

    Getting kids dressed, fed, and ready for school might sound easy, but we all know the reality isn't so simple. A missing shoe or a sock that doesn't "feel right" can turn an entire morning routine on its ear. Add in TV shows, video games, and iPad tug-of-wars, and a peaceful start to your family's day is down the tube.

    In my house, we've experimented with every possible morning media rule. But when my kids' teachers requested that parents keep the TV off before school, our rules got much simpler: No electronics at all in the morning. The trickiest part of that equation for us is managing to get two adults ready without the easy distraction of TV to keep the kids out of our hair.

    Here at Common Sense, we reached out on Twitter and Facebook to find out what strategies parents use for taming their own morning madness. We got some great solutions from parents who are making mornings work with a variety of media strategies.

    No

    Read More »from The Morning Rush: 9 Ways to Get Your Kids Out of the House Faster
  • New TV! 7 Primetime Picks for Parents and Teens

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

    Fall TV means lots of new shows on primetime -- some surefire flops and a handful of potential hits. Sorting the winners from the losers is fun for pop culture-loving teens and parents. But families who dig into the new fall TV schedule together get more than just couch potato time.

    Watching TV can be a low-pressure way for a family to spend time together, especially when many teens are focused more on their own interests and less on you. Also, post-show chats about TV characters' choices can be a great (and not-so-forced) way to express your values when it comes to touchy issues.

    This season's line-up includes the role model-worthy heroine of a post-apocalyptic world, a Downton Abbey-like British drama, and a comic-book hero. These seven shows have the potential to be entertaining and worthy choices for teens and parents to enjoy together.

    The New Normal, NBC, premieres Sept. 11

    Produced by Ryan Murphy of Glee fame,

    Read More »from New TV! 7 Primetime Picks for Parents and Teens
  • Great New Reads for Kids of All Ages

    Common Sense MediaCommon Sense MediaBy Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media editor

    Every month we highlight a few books for different ages -- some exceptional titles that could be the perfect thing to perk your kid's interest, get your reader hooked on a new author, or rediscover an old favorite. Here are our Common Sense Media picks for August:

    • For kids 3 to 7, check out It's a Tiger! by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Jeremy Tankard (Chronicle Books). A little boy is on the run from a tiger, but no matter how often he gets away, the beast keeps turning up again in this silly, mock-scary adventure that's perfect for read-aloud. Readers are swept up in the action as the boy breathlessly shouts out instructions as if they're on the run with him, telling readers when to duck, run, jump, or hide. "Yikes! He's gaining on us!"
    • For readers 8 to 12, there's The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, by Glee actor Chris Colfer (Little, Brown), which follows the adventures of brother-and-sister twins who fall into a
    Read More »from Great New Reads for Kids of All Ages
  • Shop Smart with These Back-to-School Shopping Tips

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

    The summer before my daughter started kindergarten was filled with firsts. First summer camp, first swimming lessons, first back-to-school shopping. Thanks to a school uniform policy, clothes were the easy part, but finding a backpack turned out to be an adventure -- not only did we visit countless stores in our search, but we learned a lot about which media brands were working overtime to catch my 5-year-old's eye.

    With back-to-school shopping raking in more than $70 billion a year for retailers, it's a prime time to target both parents and kids. And advertisers know that the earlier a kid learns about a brand -- whether it be McDonald's or Tinker Bell -- the more likely she'll be to buy it or beg for it later.

    Barbie tries to befriend my daughter
    Our first stops were the usual big box stores; there we found backpacks swimming in a sea of sparkly pink, where characters from TV shows and movies frolicked joyfully on the

    Read More »from Shop Smart with These Back-to-School Shopping Tips
  • Take a Trip Without Tech (Well, Almost)

    Common Sense MediaCommon Sense MediaBy Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media editor

    Family vacations are a great time to recharge and connect with your kids, but connecting can be tough if they're plugged into their electronic devices day and night. Ever try to point out the sights to a kid engaged in battle on a Nintendo DS or have a heart-to-heart with a middle-schooler whose ears are stuffed with ear buds? Ever plan a morning snorkel for the whole family, only to find you can't pry your teen off the couch to trade Facebook for flippers?

    We've all become enmeshed with media and technology in our real lives (step away from your Blackberry, parents). Vacation can be a time to unplug, or at least limit the time you spend wired, in the interest of having more face time with the people you love.

    Here are some strategies for striking a balance between family bonding and electronic engagement:

    Leave It at Home: You can't be distracted by what you don't bring. In my family, we've had vacations with and without

    Read More »from Take a Trip Without Tech (Well, Almost)
  • How to Turn the Olympics into Teachable Moments

    Olympic torchOlympic torchBy Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media editor

    The Olympics is an exciting time to gather your kids around the TV to watch the world's best athletes go toe to toe. But beyond the rippling muscles, athletic prowess, and Spandex, there are plenty of opportunities to engage kids in deeper conversations. Seize the moment by asking open-ended questions, and see where the conversation goes.

    Try these ideas for turning this family viewing opportunity into powerful life lessons.

    Talk about inspiration. If nothing else, the Olympics is a time to be awed by the abilities of the human body. Point out the kind of practice, dedication, and sacrifice that go into becoming an Olympic athlete. If there are certain competitors your kids like, find out more about their life and how they pursued their athletic goals.
    Ask: What are you willing to work hard for?

    Explore backstories. Reporters covering the Olympics dig up inspiring stories about athletes overcoming obstacles to reach

    Read More »from How to Turn the Olympics into Teachable Moments
  • Summer Olympics Guide for Families

    Summer London OlympicsSummer London OlympicsBy Caroline Knorr, Common Sense Media editor

    The Olympics may be the world's oldest competition, but this year's Games are getting a thoroughly modern upgrade. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other online outlets are offering new ways to experience the events' trials and tribulations -- and families are the winners.

    Through live feeds, athletes' blogs, message boards, photos, videos, and more, you and your kids will be able to get an up-close and personal view that plain old TV can't provide. If you know where to look, how to find the good stuff, and what to talk to your kids about, your family can experience the 2012 Olympic Games in a way that's fun, social, inspiring, and even a little educational, too.

    Here's your guide to the best Olympics sites for families

    Facebook
    This year's Games are being hailed as the "socialympics." Now's a good time to get up to speed on social media and even talk to your kids about the global role that social media is playing in the

    Read More »from Summer Olympics Guide for Families
  • New Kids' Books: What to Read Next

    Common Sense MediaCommon Sense MediaBy Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media editor

    Finding the right book for your kid can be a challenge. But if you guess right and keep new ones coming, you may be on your way to raising a lifelong reader.

    Every month we highlight a few books for different ages -- some exceptional titles that could be the perfect thing to perk your kid's interest, get your reader hooked on a new author, or rediscover an old favorite. Here are our picks for July:

    • For kids 3 to 7, check out Dragons Love Tacos, by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri, a funny picture book that warns of the dangers of serving dragons their favorite food topped with spicy salsa: It will make them breathe fire, and they could burn your house down. (Mild salsa is fine.) It's silly fun from start to finish, with dragons of every size, shape, and color and heaps and heaps of tacos on its entertaining spreads.
    • For readers 12 to 17, there's Tokyo Heist, a sizzling mystery adventure in which two
    Read More »from New Kids' Books: What to Read Next
  • How to Set Play Date Rules Without Looking like a Control Freak

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

    Recently I was stuck without a babysitter when an important event came up. I reached out to friends on Facebook, and someone was generous enough to watch my kids at the last minute. But when I picked them up, I found out that they'd spent the entire time watching movies and playing video games.

    I don't have a problem with a movie or video game here and there, but I've found that too much of either makes my kids a little nutty. And some of the movies they'd watched at my friend's house made me feel uncomfortable, too.

    I left feeling conflicted. I was grateful to my friend for helping me out but sort of upset that she hadn't checked in with me about what kinds of movies were OK or how much time they could spend playing video games. Ultimately, I realized that my kids were fine (if a little antsy) and that by dropping them off at someone else's house -- whether it be for a play date, a sleepover, or a last-minute babysitting

    Read More »from How to Set Play Date Rules Without Looking like a Control Freak

Pagination

(316 Stories)