Common Sense Media: Helping Parents and Teachers Navigate a Digital World
Our students and kids are growing up in an increasingly digital world. As soon as parents and teachers catch up in one area, new technologies have already emerged, bringing with them new opportunities and challenges. Staying on top of what’s best for kids can feel like an insurmountable task. How can we as parents and teachers prepare children for their digital futures while also setting appropriate boundaries to keep them safe? Enter Common Sense Media.
Started in 2003, this independent, non-profit organization proves to be an invaluable resource to both parents and teachers. As their website states, their mission is to “…empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.”
Common Sense Media accomplishes this goal in a variety of ways. First, they publish reviews of current books, movies, TV shows, video games, websites, and apps. Each review gives specific details about concerning content (i.e. violence, sex, language, drugs, etc.) and suggests appropriate age levels for children. Second, they publish helpful family guides that are timely and offer realistic suggestions for parents. Finally, their “Parent Concerns” section provides answers to real questions that parents struggle with today.
Using Common Sense Media in the Classroom
Check out the Common Sense Education section of the website. There you’ll find great resources like:
- Articles you can share in your classroom newsletter.
- Reviews that can help you make informed choices about age-appropriate media for your grade. You can keep tabs on lunchtime conversations about movies and video games and know whether they should or shouldn’t be discussing certain media in class.
- There is a wonderful digital citizenship curriculum available with resources for kids from third grade through high school. Use what pieces work best for you.
- There are many great lists for finding the best apps for your classroom devices. Specify the device, content area, age, and even common core standard(s) to find the best-rated apps for students. If you are looking for ways to meaningfully integrate technology into classroom instruction, Common Sense Media couldn’t make it easier.
Tips for Parents
Parents, this site is for you, too. Take a moment to check it out. Get helpful tips and suggestions for finding the right balance with your children at home. While this only scratches the surface, these are some of my favorites:
- The Essential Apps Guide: Just choose your device and age range, and this guide will serve up the best apps for your kids’ devices.
- The Learning Differences and Special Needs Guide: Find tips for homework help and advice for how to best support kids with special needs as they engage with technology.
- Check out the section on “Parent Concerns.” There you will find great articles like “How Much Screen Time Is Ok for My Kids?“, “What’s the Right Age to Get My Kid a Cell Phone?” and “How do I talk to my kids about violence on TV and in movies or games?“
- Follow Common Sense Media on Facebook
- Follow Common Sense Media on Twitter
- Sign up to receive weekly email newsletters (Scroll down and sign up on the right)
- Download the free Common Sense Media Android App
- Download the free Common Sense Media Apple App
Guest post by: Brandon Helder, 2nd grade teacher at Hudsonville Christian School in Hudsonville, Michigan. Or as he likes to say, he’s the tallest 2nd grader at Hudsonville Christian. Brandon writes “The Thrify Teacher” blog. He is married to Kimberly, and they have three girls under five years old. Contact Brandon via the “Say Hello” form on his blog.