Resources for Family-Friendly Media Choices

As a parent, a teacher, and a Christian, I’m concerned about media exposure.  There are arguments to be made for avoiding entertainment media altogether, but I’m not there, instead seeing some entertainment as legitimate parts of our shared human experience under God’s common grace.

However, I’m aware of some dangers with media.  There is the obsession with media, which is bad for us even if the media is good.  There is the deception of media that is innocuous on the surface, but seething with false worldviews.  And there is the obvious stuff, containing objectionable content.  My philosophy on that is if I wouldn’t show it to my kids and don’t want them watching it, then I don’t need to be either.

Any of us who have concerns about media have probably had the unpleasant experience of being blindsided by a movie, game, or book.  Perhaps a friend recommended it.  Oops!  He didn’t say anything about that part.  Hey!  This is a movie based on a kids’ toy franchise – it should be fine.  Wait – they decided to include WHAT in it??!  I like to avoid such surprises.

Thankfully, in recent years, we have access to resources that can give us a helpful heads-up.  The three I have found most useful are below:

  • Plugged In:  PluggedIn.com is Focus on the Family’s media review center.  They cover current movies (then archive them).  They also cover music, TV, and video games (although this coverage is more selective).  Movie coverage is thorough, sometimes with more detail than I wish I knew.  This site has caused me to avoid most of the movies I have looked up there.  Coverage of other media is more sparse, often reserved for the big blockbuster titles in the book, TV, and game realms.
  • Common Sense Media: commonsensemedia.org is not a Christian website, but it shares the concern of moral decency.  They review movies, video games and other media.
  • Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB):  www.esrb.org provides ratings for video games on computer, home consoles, and mobile consoles.  The older titles don’t usually have much detail, but the newer titles usually explain their reasons.  I have found the rating system to be fairly reliable.  We don’t usually allow anything about “E10” in our home, though we have allowed a few “T” rated titles, as long as the rating is for fantasized violence that isn’t over the top.

I really don’t get how the folks at these sites can handle seeing some of the stuff they review.  But I have certainly found their labors useful in avoiding some stuff that otherwise might have caught me off guard.

These sites don’t rid me of my need to personally assess some media, but they help me know that there are some titles that I don’t need to give even a first look.

Do you have any similar resources you recommend?

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