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Using Common Sense for Kids’ Media Watching!

In today’s media environment, with fake news and its many shows that are inappropriate for or contain underlying messages that are destructive for kids…including shows presenting themselves as family friendly, it is wonderful to know about Common Sense Media as a resource to navigate those waters. Today I ask Jamie Nunez from Common Sense Media to let us know about the beneficial resources available to parents on their site.

Sylvia: On the Common Sense Media website it says your mission is to ensure digital well-being for kids everywhere and that it has never been more vital than it is today. How does Common Sense Media do this?

Jamie: First thing to know is that Common Sense Media is an independent voice for kids, families and communities around the world. We combine original research through our research department, along with our advocacy work and support for educators to help provide a better world for all kids.

One of the ways is through guidance in the entertainment choices families are making for kids. We have a massive, trusted library of aged-based ratings and reviews, that not only look at what is developmentally appropriate for a child, but we have expanded that to asking…is that media actually representing everyone? Are we being as inclusive as we can and providing that diverse perspective?

Another thing we have done is create a digital citizenship program. More on that later.

Additionally, we have an advocacy program where we are supporting legislators to make sure that privacy protection is in place for kids and students and that we are protecting data, while also helping to provide access to technology to families.

Sylvia: Please share with us how the expert film, book and other media reviews help parents navigate the media waters.

Jamie: I think what is really important to know is that for our families we are helping to provide answers to their question of, am I exposing my children to the right kind of media? And we know that this task can be daunting, finding what actually upholds the values of the family. What we have is unique, in that we allow the kids to chime in on the film reviews. So, we have our reviews, then we have parent’s reviews and then kids giving their perspective. We have a repository of all those comments for people to look at before making their choices, which is beneficial.

Sylvia: Tell us about your Digital Citizenship Program.

Jamie: Our digital citizenship curriculum is in about 70% of the schools. We have a little more than a million educators using our free content. We know educators want to teach these skills. We know that technology is being integrated into the schools and we want to make sure that the topics we cover reinforce the idea of making sure our kids are well rounded and that that they are able to access technology for appropriate use…for critical thinking and for civic engagement.

Part of that is supporting teachers, not only with our free curriculum but also to rate and review tech programs and tools. So, if a teacher wants to know whether or not that book or literacy program would be beneficial for their students they can go to our site and look it up for the review.

People often ask, what are some of the themes I should be mindful of as a parent or educator? What we have across our platform is six different topics that we cover as the foundation of digital literacy and citizenship.

1) The first is to make sure that kids are balancing their digital media with other things for their well-being.

2) Then, we want to make sure that the kids’ information is being held private. So, we have an entire set of lessons built on privacy and security. We teach students about how protecting their passwords are important for part of their well-being.

3) Then we have a topic around digital footprint and identity. We no longer want to see kids being passive consumers of tech and want them to know that what they are posting has impact and potential consequences.

4) Another theme is relationship and communication. We want to know that when a child is old enough, they know how to navigate the conversations that take place online and beyond the emojis and non-verbal communications that are sent out.

5) We address issues that are related to digital drama. So, any issue where students are encountering hate speech and cyber-bullying. We want to name what students can do with the up standards in these cases. We address both how they treat others and how others treat them. We really try to emphasize the positive. We want our kids to be kind and courageous online. What we do is we try to address those tough topics and what it means to be an up standard and building that supportive online community when trying to combat this cruelty kids often see online. There are lessons on how to pause and think before you respond to someone who is being critical. How do you put a stop to online meanness and how to be mindful of the words you are using online that could create harm or be hurtful to others.

6) And then finally, we want to make sure that whatever media sources these students are looking at that they are aware and thinking critically about the content in front of them. We emphasize a couple of lessons on the news in media and such and to be critical thinkers or critical consumers of all content.

Thank you, Jamie. These are all things parents need to be thinking about and taking action on. We appreciate the help!

Jamie Nunez is the Western Regional Manager of | Common Sense Media



The views and opinions expressed by the interviewees do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Conscious Media Movement.


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