Tag Archives: Common Sense Media

Question: Did you co-view the Super Bowl with your kids?

6 Feb

It occurred to me sometime last night between Madonna’s halftime show and reading my Facebook news feed that there are a lot of parents out there who watched the big game with their kids. (Not in my home, by the way. My kids were in bed before any real action started, and we only checked in occasionally between breaks from watching a PBS documentary, because that’s how we roll.) I was chuckling at various pictures posted on Facebook with kids dressed up in football jerseys and eating chips and dip. It made me realize that the Super Bowl (and any other big sporting event) offers a great opportunity for family co-viewing. It’s a great way for parents to share their passion with kids.

It was all very innocent, until I considered the content of most of the ads during the Super Bowl. Remember those? Many of the ads during the Super Bowl are about beer, encouraging people to drink. Many of ads also involve sexual innuendo or portray women in a negative way. Yes, there are some family friendly advertisements that can be quite fun to share, but what about those that require some discussion?

Luckily, we have Common Sense Media in this world. They recently posted tips on how to discuss ads with your kids shown during the Super Bowl. They also presented this little research tidbit: “A study by the Center on Alcohol Advertising showed that 9- to 11-year-old kids had higher recall (73%) of the Budweiser frogs’ slogan than the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (39%). And kids knew what the frogs were selling: 81% identified beer as the product promoted by the frogs.” But I’m going to guess that many parents out there did not have the opportunity to check this out.

Did you watch the game with kids this year? If so, please comment on this – how did you do it? Were there any discussions? Did you watch the ads together or simply use them as an opportunity to get more food, use the bathroom, etc? Did your kids have any questions about them? How old were the kids watching with you?

Movie Nights With Teens

16 Dec

Fam mov nghtI love hearing new ideas on how to co-view with families. If you have teenagers and would like to find a way to stay connected to your kids (and discuss some touchy topics), Movie Night is a great option! This recent article in USA Today provided some wonderful tips. I recommend you read the whole article, but in essence, it described how movies can open up conversations that parents want to have with their kids. The article advised parents to go to sources like Common Sense Media to find age-appropriate films, to talk about risqué or violent material if you are watching together, and to never force a teen to watch with you. They also recommend introducing your children to “classic” films at an early age, as the slow-style of these films may take some getting used to. (I don’t happen to agree with that, but it couldn’t hurt to try.) What do you think? Anyone else have any tips out there to make Movie Night a success with teens?

An “Ingredients Label” for Kid’s TV?

8 Sep

A few weeks ago, David Kleeman, the President of the American Center for Children and Media, wrote an interesting piece for the Huffington Post.  In it, he suggested a new idea that could benefit parents who monitor their kids’ TV-viewing behaviors: A kind of “ingredients label” for children’s television programs, making the philosophies, creative approach and curriculum available to all.  I’ve been wrapping my head around the idea, trying to figure out my own opinion.

What Kleeman is suggesting is very different from TV Ratings already in place. That is, we are already given things like “TV-Y” for content directed to all children, or “TV-MA” for mature audiences only, etc.  These ratings are given by a separate monitoring board than the producers.  He is also not talking about the kind of ratings determined by Common Sense Media, an organization that both rates programming based by age-appropriateness but also allows parents to weigh in with their own reviews.  In essence, he is calling upon the Creators and the Producers of children’s television to create guidelines, or “nutritional content” of their shows.


Nutrition label

Sort of like this... except on your TV?


Having been fortunate enough to work on the production side of some great children’s television, I can tell you that everything he says in that post is correct.  There are some extremely thoughtful producers out there, carefully crafting their product to have the best impact on kids.  Some of them even go out into the world to pilot-test some of the learning ideas with small groups of children.  Many of them use Developmental Psychologists to read the scripts and give their notes.  Most of them have a curriculum. However, not all of them do all these things.  Others do some of those things, but in a half-hearted way, knowing that it gives them better credibility with parents.  It is sometimes difficult to tell that, however, because all shows seem to have websites that will gladly tell you their intentions.

I like the idea of an “ingredients label” for children’s television, but would insist upon a standard one, much like the FDA uses.  In fact, such a label should be overseen by an outside monitoring agency much like the FDA who could limit what those ingredients would be and monitor if they are truthful.  (Perhaps the American Center for Children and Media could fill this role?  Are you listening, David Kleeman?)  I fear that children’s TV programs out there who do NOT carefully craft their product would not want to comply, however.  Any idea about what should be done about that?

Certainly, this label would make picking and choosing TV shows for our kids much easier.  We would co-view not simply to monitor the content but to enhance the learning.  How would a label on TV shows change the way you watch? Would you want one?  I’m curious to hear what you have to think; let’s get the conversation started.

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