Movies for Kids: How Does a Parent Decide?

hollywood signRecently I have had a lot of discussions with other parents about movies what movies are appropriate for our kids. This is but a mere portion of the larger discussion on media and technology that we must address as parents. What is a parent to do? How do we make good decisions? We have to use Common Sense!

I will never forget the moment when I let my child who was WAY TOO YOUNG watch The Green Hornet. I let myself get swept away by another parent’s enthusiasm–and my son’s too. I did go with him and not a minute went by that I didn’t want to scoop him up and leave the theater. Maybe I should have. But I didn’t, and it did lead to some good discussions. But I vowed never [this word needs a loose interpretation] to go into another media situation without a better compass.

What I always find most confusing about movies is that the ratings don’t always make csm-logo-apr12sense. They especially don’t make sense if you are comparing a current movie rating with that of an older film. We have a general rule to not let our 3rd and 5th graders watch rated R movies, but some older ones are exempt and make it in the mix. We came to this rule because without a rule we were floating out there in media-land without any compass. Our kids fight it. But it just makes sense to us.

How do we make decisions about what movies our kids can watch? We use discussion with other parents we know we share values. We also lean heavily on Common Sense Media. This is a nonprofit organization that rates movies in a way that I can understand the content and underlying tone. They break things down so that I can ensure my kids aren’t getting the stuff we don’t want and get to watch shows with themes we can live with or are looking for. The break down includes rating by parents and kids in terms of how old kids should be to watch the film, the quality of the film, the overall message, positive role models, sex, violence, language, consumerism, & finally, drinking/drugs/smoking.

Here is an example from the movie, Chasing Mavericks, that we watched on our last family movie night:

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 12.14.14 PM

Common Sense Media gives us an opportunity to preview the movie and think about how we will talk about themes in the show that come up. Sometimes we do. Sometimes we just let the message speak for itself.

Where do you get the scoop on what to let your kids watch?

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