Because media profoundly affects our kids' social, emotional, and physical development, Common Sense Media rates media based on age appropriateness and learning potential. We rely on developmental criteria from some of the nation's leading authorities to determine what content is appropriate for which ages. Research on how kids learn from media and technology informs our learning ratings. Our goal is to give you trustworthy information so that you can decide what works for your family. We know every family and every kid is different -- but all families need information to make great media choices.
Understanding our ratings
For each title, we indicate the age for which a title is either appropriate or most relevant (as in, most likely your kids will see it) and assign an ON (age appropriate), PAUSE (somewhat edgy for the age), or OFF (not age appropriate) rating.
Additionally, for apps, video games, and websites, we indicate the learning potential of a title in terms of whether it's BEST, VERY GOOD, GOOD, or FAIR for learning -- or not for learning. Update: In March 2013, we expanded our learning rating scale from three to five points based on feedback from our users and advisors and to better differentiate products. Tell us what you think. (See below for more details on learning ratings.)
We help you decide: What’s appropriate at every age
Our age-rating bar quickly tells you whether something is right for a given age. This is great if you have more than one child.
Why we rate something ON, PAUSE, or OFF for an age
Right below our ratings, we have a list of specific content categories that offer in-depth information on each title. Each category is rated on a scale of 0-5; if no dots are filled in, that means the content is either not applicable or doesn't rate on our scale. If three are highlighted, that means there’s a fair amount of that type of content, and five highlighted dots indicates that there's lots of it.
Why we rate something best, good, fair, or not for learning
We look at several aspects of each app, video game, and website we review to determine its learning rating. Titles that score high on many of the dimensions are rated Best for Learning; those that score low receive a Not for Learning rating.
Is it any good?
One star? Five stars? Sometimes media can be age appropriate but a real waste of time. We think you want to know how enjoyable something is before plunking down those twenties for something that will bore you to tears.
What parents need to know
This is a short guide to all the essential information that parents need to know to make a decision quickly -- or manage a decision that’s already been made.
What's the story?/What's it about?
A brief summary of what the experience is like. For movies, DVD, books, and music, this is a plot summary. For games, apps, and websites, it's a description of what happens in the course of interacting with the title.
Families can talk about
Our kids are really influenced by the everything they see, hear, and interact with. We offer families discussion starters to help them think critically about the messages and content of the media they consume.
What kids can learnThis is a brief summary of the subjects and skills that kids could learn. It gives parents, teachers, and kids the essential information they need to decide about a title’s learning potential.
Subjects and skills
Looking for engaging games that require critical thinking skills? Apps that exercise creative muscles? Websites that encourage vocabulary building through collaboration? We analyze titles for the subjects and skills they cover, and offer these details in a simple, searchable format.
Subjects include both academic areas and extracurricular activities.
Skills include key skills that kids need to think, live, work -- and succeed -- in the world of tomorrow.
How kids can learnCurious about how a particular app, game, or website can help kids learn? We tell you about the degree to which titles are fun and engaging, designed well for learning, and provide opportunities to support and strengthen learning.
How parents can helpLike any teaching tool, the learning potential of a media or technology title depends on who's using it, and how their learning is being supported by the teachers, parents, and friends in their lives. This section provides tips about how to extend learning to real life and offers ideas about what types of kids would benefit from the title.
What's appropriate at every age?
Each of our ratings and reviews are based on important, fundamental child development principles. Select the age range of your child to learn more:
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