CMCH Suggestions: Do Your Homework

Parents should study the nature, content, and age-appropriateness of media products before children use them.

When you think about media for your children, you will want to consider what is appropriate for their ages. A good place to start is the ratings systems. You can also check out screen shots from games, lyrics from songs, and reviews from other parents before you make decisions about which media to use. Parents should use their judgment to consider what will be best for their own child's development.

Suggested Product Review Sites:

Common Sense Media: This site provides media ratings for many types of media (movies, books, music, TV, video games, etc). Ratings are “based on developmental criteria recommendations from some of the nation's leading authorities.”  The site may not have the newest video game titles, but it is more likely to be up to date on other media.  Includes reviews and user opinions as well as ratings.

Epinions: This site has user reviews of a wide array of products (media, electronics, and more traditional toys and products).  Remember that people who have very good or very bad experiences are more likely to review products, so parents should keep that in mind while reading reviews.  People who make the products may even review their own items.  Like all online reviews, these provide good, but not flawless, information.

CNET: This site provides in-depth reviews of many media products ranging from cell phones, to laptops, to video games and MP3 players.  Videos show the product in action, and both editor and user reviews provide valuable information.   

Fun Again Games: While traditional board games and party games like Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, and Clue provide classic fun, there are newer games that many people have never heard of.  This site offers a wide selection of these games as well as reviews.  These games often encourage creativity and interaction rather than competition among players.  For example, in the game Why Did the Chicken? players write punchlines to randomly generated jokes and the judge picks his or her favorite (Apples to Apples provides a more simple but similar game).  In the games Nanofictionary and Once Upon a Time players tell or write stories together to win the game.

Book Hive: This site is an excellent resource created by the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County in North Carolina.  It provides tools to search for books by age and genre, has reviews of books written by both teachers and children, and provides grade specific reading lists.  The site is engaging, so children could use it to tell their parents what books they would like to receive.  Because it is a local site, the “request a book from the library” function will not be useful for the majority of people.

Gamespot: This site offers reviews of games and has ratings, many screen shots, and videos of actual game play. A good source for information about the games themselves, but not about the suitability of games for specific age groups. 

A-Z Lyrics Universe and All the Lyrics: There are many sites that provide lyrics to current hit songs as well as more other music.  A Google search of the song title and the word “lyrics” will likely find what you need, but these two sites are also good places to start.


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