Why We Can’t Live Without Common Sense Media

Parenting is a challenge all the time, and we all have our tips, tricks and tools for doing our best with what we’ve got: rewards, consequences, bribery, parental control apps, wi-fi shutter downers. For us, one of the most important tools in our parenting toolbox is a website called Common Sense Media.

For those of you who don’t know it, Common Sense Media is a phenomenal resource for parents to find reviews of books, movies, TV shows, websites, games and apps. There are star ratings for everything and three separate age ratings: one for what Common Sense Media says, one for what parents say, and one for what kids say.

There are also star ratings for positive messages, role models, violence, sex, language, consumerism and drinking, drugs and smoking, as well as an indispensible synopsis called “What Parents Need to Know”. (Or in our case, what parents used to know but forgot, like that sex scene in the opening of the movie, or the F bomb in the airport, or that scene where the constable holds up the severed head. Whoops!!!)

In our house, tween and young teen are outgrowing animated features but their combined intellectual and emotional maturity doesn’t always sync up, even within the same kid. We don’t - by which I mean we can’t - read or watch anything without consulting Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media is our compass and our map. 

It is our opinions, both as parents and as owners of a business that produces content for children, that we grown-ups have our whole, long lives to consume shocking, violent and appalling content.There’s no need for kids to rush it. It can be a constant struggle to find content that challenges and provokes without exposing kids too soon to things they are not ready to see. But it’s a challenge worth accepting, for their sake and for ours. These days the kids never seem to go to bed and whatever they watch we have to watch too. 

Mail Order Mystery is not reviewed on Common Sense Media, but we can assure you that we want no part of frightening or upsetting kids. In all four of our mysteries we weave back and forth across the line of smart and silly, and we trade first and foremost in the currency of fun.

In our mysteries you will find a Bigfoot driving a garbage truck, an evil villain at a Scrabble tournament, a dragon who plays chess… and did you know you have a great-great-great-great-great pirate grandfather with the same last name as you?