CommonSense_2014_ipad

By Christina Agvent

Common Sense Media is a not for profit organization whose mission is to provide unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools so as to utilize the power of media as a positive force in the lives of children. The organization is dedicated to enabling children to thrive and to empower parents, teachers, and policymakers. According to their website, “Common Sense Media is led by concerned parents and individuals with experience in child advocacy, public policy, education, media and entertainment.” The organization includes members of leading research, academic and policy institutions as well as the business community. The non-profit’s foundation rests on ten core beliefs from which stem four main programs. CommonSenseMedia.org strives to provide valuable resources so that a healthy approach towards media can be fostered along with a perspective that places the needs of children first.

The Media Program’s goal is to enable parents to make smart choices that will promote children’s cognitive, social, and emotional growth. Families have access to blogs, family guides, a forum for voicing concerns, and an extensive collection of reviews. Parents are afforded multiple options for searching including by age, media type, and devices. The results provide a 1-5 star rating on 6 “What Parents Need to Know” items from ease of play to level of violence; a detailed summary that highlight 5 relevant subjects, including what families should talk about in regards to the game; and reviews from users, parents and children themselves. In addition in the book reviews, the educational value is also assessed and rated, as are the presence of positive role models and messages. Common Sense Media is a valuable and user-friendly resource for families who want to provide their children with developmentally appropriate Apps, games, websites, television programs, books, music, and movies.

Also worthy of note is Kids Action Program whose objective is to drive state and national policy so that the priority of the United States is educating our children. This grassroots campaign allows parents, teachers, and all interested parties to engage in advocacy activities in all fifty states. The program was founded on the existing framework of Common Sense Media and has over a decade of experience in promoting key policy issues from equal Internet access and technology tools to quality early childhood education programs for all children. Common Sense Media’s Research Program for the Study of Children and Media provides data that is independently conducted and presents supporting evidence for the necessity of their advocacy interests. Their research more than documents the need for parents, educators, health organizations and policymakers to take action on behalf of our nation’s children. For over 11 years they have been leaders in promoting change in legislation to improve digital experiences for children. For example, Common Sense has engaged in extensive legislative advocacy to update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule as well as helping introduce California’s landmark legislation, the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA).

The Common Sense Education program provides teachers, administrators and schools with research-based tools that support student learning and prepare children for the digital world in which they live. Opportunities for professional development, building connections with families, integrating digital tools into planning, and curriculum on digital literacy and citizenship are all available at no cost. In addition, teachers (or schools as a whole) can apply to be members of the Graphite Program and become certified Common Sense Media Education educators or schools.

Common Sense Media offers families, teachers, and advocates a wealth of resources from both entertainment and advocacy standpoints. The website is easy to navigate and information is presented in a clear manner that is concise and understandable. One can devote minutes to the site simply locating a review or hours examining the research data, journal articles and legislative accomplishments of Common Sense Media. In addition, the website is also available in Spanish allowing for greater access. Common Sense Media can be found at commonsensemedia.org and is of great benefit to families, educators, and advocates of children and education who are committed to providing age appropriate, meaningful, and safe digital experiences for children.