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Common Sense Media Launches Learning Ratings Initiative for Digital Media

New ratings assess learning potential of apps, games, websites to guide parents to great choices and spur development of quality products

Common Sense Media
Tuesday, April 10, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Common Sense Media, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids and families thrive in a world of media and technology, today launched a new learning ratings initiative that will evaluate the learning potential of websites, video games, and mobile apps. The ratings and reviews provide parents, teachers, teens, and kids with a guide to find the games, sites, and apps that can extend learning time, make learning fun, and build skills that the next generation will need to be successful in the 21st century. The new initiative is made possible through a partnership with SCE, a foundation created by Susan Crown.

"For nearly a decade, Common Sense Media has been providing parents and educators with the information they need to choose high-quality media for their kids," said James Steyer, CEO and founder, Common Sense Media. "As the digital world explodes, parents need help sorting the truly educational content from the content that's slapped with an 'educational' label by marketers. As the nation's leading nonpartisan authority on kids and media, Common Sense Media is uniquely positioned to provide this new level of guidance and expertise for parents, educators, and young people across the country."

A 2011 poll from Common Sense Media found that while many parents recognize that digital media can provide learning benefits, they are skeptical about the products' educational claims. Common Sense Media's learning ratings address that problem by clearly communicating the learning potential of a website, game, or app, along with offering suggestions on how to get the most out of the user experience. Reviewers analyze digital media products for core academic content like reading, math, and science, as well as deeper learning and social skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. They also assess each product's overall learning potential, looking both at how engaging it is and how it's designed to support learning.

"Kids love digital media, and they're spending more and more time with it. But many parents aren't sure how to help their kids use these tools to their full advantage," said Susan Crown, founder and chairman, SCE. "Common Sense's learning ratings will revolutionize how families and schools select digital media products. But we hope that this system will also motivate those in the entertainment industry to create even more high-quality learning media in the coming years, elevating the way we think about the learning potential of media and technology."

Visitors to commonsense.org and users of the Common Sense Media app will now see a new rating for learning at the top of each mobile app, video game, and website review. These icons appear in addition to Common Sense's standard rating for age appropriateness and quality. Under the tab "Learning Potential," users see summary reviews of what kids can learn, what the product is about, how kids can learn, and how parents can help. Along with the summaries, a section called "Subjects and Skills" lays out both the core subjects and the 21st-century skills that the product addresses. The entire review culminates in an overall learning rating, ranging from "Not Meant for Learning" to "Best for Learning." Common Sense will rate and review both products that were intentionally designed to be educational as well as conventional entertainment media.

Common Sense Media's learning ratings are based on comprehensive research and a rigorous evaluation framework. The framework was developed after conducting interviews with academic experts, a literature review of key 21st-century learning skills, and research with national samples of parents and teachers, who voiced a real need for learning ratings like these. The learning ratings initiative builds on Common Sense Media's successful media ratings and education programs -- through commonsense.org and content partners, Common Sense Media already provides ratings on more than 16,500 titles and offers education resources to more than 26,000 schools in all 50 states and 67 countries.

Learning ratings and reviews are available now for more than 150 mobile apps, games, and websites, with more than 800 expected by the end of 2012. New digital media products will now be reviewed for learning potential as they enter the market, while earlier digital media reviews will be updated on an ongoing basis. In addition, Common Sense's editors will be compiling special recommendation lists by age and subject or skill to help parents identify the products that best meet their kids' and teens' learning needs.

For more information, use the contact information below. To see all learning reviews, visit https://www.commonsense.org/education.

About Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to: www.commonsensemedia.org.

About SCE

SCE is a social investment organization that connects talent and innovation with market forces to drive social change. SCE's Digital Learning program focuses on the potential of digital media technologies to help children learn and practice both traditional and 21st-century skills. For more information, please visit: scefdn.org

Press Contacts

Marisa Connolly
Common Sense Media
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Ryan Blitstein
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