Garbage In, Garbage Out
One of the first principles I learned in computer science was GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. It referred to the fact that computers will unquestioningly process the most nonsensical of input data and produce nonsensical output.
This principle also applies to kids, especially when it comes to media input. If they watch inappropriate movies, listen to inappropriate music, visit inappropriate websites or play inappropriate video games, they’re more likely to behave or think inappropriately.
What’s a parent to do? When “everyone” is seeing a certain hilarious R-rated movie, where can you go to find out if it’s what you want your child to see? Here are some online resources to help you decide what’s appropriate for your child:
- CommonsenseMedia.org: Includes reviews of movies, tv shows, games, music, websites, and books. Allows parents to search for appropriate content by age and media. This excellent website is a one-stop shop for screening your child’s media input. (Side note: This site is run by one of my best professors in college, Jim Steyer. I never wanted to be a lawyer, but I LOVED his Constitutional Law class!)
- Screenit.com: Uses a matrix of 15 factors ranging from Alcohol/Drugs to Violence to show what a movie includes. Also describes in detail what a movie includes. The site also has artistic reviews, allowing a parent to say, “Why would you want to see this lousy movie anyway?”
- ParentPreviews.com: Grades movies on an A-F scale. Includes a list of video alternatives.
- PluggedInOnline.com: Includes sections on the Positive and Negative Elements in a movie, as well as Spiritual Content.
- KidsInMind.com: Grades movies on three scales: Sex & Nudity, Violence & Gore and Profanity.
- Dove.org: Lists only approved movies. Includes age recommendations.
- PluggedInOnline.com: Includes summary of an album’s Pro-Social Content and Objectionable Content.
- For music lyrics, just type in the name of the song (in quotes) and the word “lyrics” to Google.
See you at the movies! Or maybe not!