I just found this fantastic site created by Common Sense Media that teaches kids about online safety and digital manners in a fun game-like atmosphere. I've been playing a few of the games myself for the past hour or so! :)
Today it's getting harder and harder to judge a movie by it's rating. Take, for instance, the controversy over the MPAA rating of "Philomena" which was contested by the producer and allowed a lower rating. Who is determining what type of criteria is used to rate our movies? How do they exactly decide what makes a movie appropriate for which rating? And are these people someone that parents should trust to be making this decision for them?
This lack of consistency can be especially discouraging for parents who are trying to make sure the movies and TV shows their children see are age appropriate for their children, and customize what their family views for the personal needs of each child's personality and sensitivities. Every family is different, so trying to "rate" a movie based on ambiguous guidelines can be really tough. What one parent thinks is horrific may be totally acceptable to another parent. What's a parent to do?
I like to look up parental reviews for movies and TV shows before I watch them, especially if I am going to watch them with my kids. Occassionally I will share various sites that do parental reviews and give my thoughts on them. Here is my first "parental review site review." ;)
My go-to parental review site in the late 90's and early 2000's when my kids were small, through the 1990's when my kids were small, www.screenit.com is a great website that focuses on simply giving parents information about what's in a movie so you they can choose for themselves.
I haven't used the site as much recently because they now charge for membership (I can't tell how much from the main site anymore), and I just didn't find myself using it often enough to be worth paying. However, I totally understand why they need to charge, since they have to find a way to pay the people who meticulously go through the movies.
One month membership is $7.95, or you can pay for a year for $47.00. They are currently offering a free 3-day full-access passto their site that requires only your name and email address to sign up for.
They also offer a 30-day full money back guarantee if you're not satisfied with the service. So as long as you don't forget to cancel (like some busy parents may do!,) you've got nothing to lose.
Their rating system is great for parents who don't want someone else to tell them whether it's a good movie or not, but want to see what's in it and decide for themselves. It's an excellent approach. They make no attempt to rate the movie or say whether or not is it appropriate for children - that's up to the parent to decide.
They take everything that happens in a movie and categorize it into various areas such as violence, profanity, sexual content, etc. They list the number of occurrences of each type of thing in movie. You can look at the overview which rates each category on how often it occurs. The more times it occurs, the more intense the rating will be. For example:
profanity - mild
violence - heavy
smoking - none
OR - you can click on the details of each category and see specifically what occurs in the movie. These details may contain spoilers, of course, but if you're looking up a G-rated movie and it says the nudity category is "mild," it's nice to go read the details to see if it's a big deal or not.
Case in point - When I looked up Mulan years ago, it was listed as "mild" for the nudity category. Shocked, I clicked on the details to read what was considered "mild nudity." and remembered the scene where the soldiers are skinny dipping and Mulan looks up and obviously sees one of the characters on the beach. She covers her eyes, and it's obvious that she has seen more than she wanted to see. This is not obvious nudity, but it's good to be aware of as a parent before you take your kids to the movie, especially a "family-friendly" cartoon. That scene didn't bother me when I saw it, so it was intersting to see it written out in black and white.
Like I said before, I used screenit.com all through the early years of my kids' growing up, and it never let me down. Though I haven't logged into the website recently, if it's anything like it used to be, it is a great option for parents who want to know what's in movies and don't mind paying a bit to do so. Get your free 3-day pass and decide for yourself!
The New York Times published this article in December 2006 about the fact that perhaps we should embrace clutter, because it is the mark of creativity. While extreme, the article was an interesting take on the recent phenomenon of the past several decades in which everyone beats themselves up about not being organized enough.
New York Times Opinion:
Here are the first few paragraphs of the article:
"It is a truism of American life that we’re too darn messy, or we think we are, and we feel really bad about it. Our desks and dining room tables are awash with paper; our closets are bursting with clothes and sports equipment and old files; our laundry areas boil; our basements and garages seethe. And so do our partners — or our parents, if we happen to be teenagers.
"This is why sales of home-organizing products, like accordion files and labelmakers and plastic tubs, keep going up and up, from $5.9 billion last year to a projected $7.6 billion by 2009, as do the revenues of companies that make closet organizing systems, an industry that is pulling in $3 billion a year, according to Closets magazine.
"This is why January is now Get Organized Month, thanks also to the efforts of the National Association of Professional Organizers, whose 4,000 clutter-busting members will be poised, clipboards and trash bags at the ready, to minister to the 10,000 clutter victims the association estimates will be calling for its members’ services just after the new year.
"But contrarian voices can be heard in the wilderness. Ananti-anticlutter movement is afoot, one that says yes to mess and urges you to embrace your disorder. Studies are piling up that show that messy desks are the vivid signatures of people with creative, limber minds (who reap higher salaries than those with neat “office landscapes”) and that messy closet owners are probably better parents and nicer and cooler than their tidier counterparts. It’s a movement that confirms what you have known, deep down, all along: really neat people are not avatars of the good life; they are humorless and inflexible prigs, and have way too much time on their hands."
Jumbled Sunshine's Opinion:
My take? The truth lies somewhere in between the two extremes of "too much" clutter and "too much" neatness. What do you think?