My son is 11 and like most preteens, he's into movies and video games. While the game and movie rating systems are great, as a parent, sometimes “PG 13” just doesn't give me enough information to make a decision if a movie is right for my family. I've used the parent guide in the IMDB for several years, but I recently discovered other resources for more information about both movies and video games. While I end up with spoilers before I see a movie, I think it's worth it to determine if a movie is right for my kids before we head out to the theater, especially with tickets averaging $10 or more per person. (See our list of places to see movies for less than $6/seat). Here are 7 Parent Resources for Content Information for Movies, TV and Video Games.
Common Sense Media – This great resource gives a short synopsis of the story and a 5 level rating scale for language, violence, sex, drinking and drugs, and consumerism. There are also ratings for positive messages and role models. You can also see full details of each category to get more information before you make a decision (these may be spoilers). Readers can also add their opinion of the movie. The best part (and what makes Common Sense Media different from other review sites) is the suggestions of what you can talk about after the movie just like suggestions for a book club discussion.
IMDB – This is my “go to” site for parent info. Search for any movie and then scroll past the cast information to the section titled “Storyline”. At the bottom of the section, there is a link to the parents' guide where you can view the content advisory. If any of the information gives away the story of the movie it is covered with a banner “spoiler” so you can decide if you want the information even though it gives away some of the movie.
Kids in Mind – Kids in Mind started reviewing movies in 1992 and has a huge database of films. Find out more about the plot of a movie along with a 1 to 10 rating scale for 3 topics – sex and nudity, violence and gore, and profanity. You can also read a complete content analysis with details of each instance of content that may be concerning.
Parent Previews – This is another site that has been around for over 20 years. In addition to a full video review of the movie, categories such as profanity, sexual content, and violence are given letter grades (A – F) based on their rating system.
Common Sense Media – Trying to decide if a TV show or movie is right for your child? You can look up over 4800 different shows and get the same information provided for movies on the big screen.
IMDB – Set up exactly like the content guide for movies, you can see parent advisory information for TV shows and TV movies.
Parents Television Council – See the schedule for 5 networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and CW with red, yellow and green (like a traffic light) ratings for each show. You can also see their picks of the week for family friendly show suggestions
Common Sense Media – Find information about the latest online, PC and console games including reviews from both parents and kids. We recently got an Xbox One and I looked up Halo to find out why some versions were “Teen” and some were “Mature”. With the added information I was able to decide if my 11-year-old was mature enough to play.
ESRB – This is the official website for the Entertainment Software Ratings Board which rates video games. Search for a game and see why it received the rating that it did. You can also see the guidelines for the rating categories.
Pixelkin – This site is a great place to find age appropriate games for all platforms, PCs and mobile devices.