One of the best things about homeschooling is that every family can do what works for them. We all tend towards different methods, curriculum, and scheduling. There’s another thing that every family may tackle slightly differently, and that is determining what content is acceptable in the media we consume.
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My kids are constantly aware of what everyone else is allowed to watch, play, or do online. When they were younger, we had regular conversations about family rules being different in these areas.
Just like with choosing curriculum, in order to make informed decisions we need to invest some time and thought. If we don’t, we really are making a decision by default.
But it can feel overwhelming, can’t it? As if monitoring movie and TV watching isn’t enough, then you add in video games, then internet usage on computers, smartphones and other devices, and I haven’t even mentioned apps yet. And of course, everything changes as your kids age. Gah! Are you exhausted yet?!
Thankfully, there are lots of tools that can help lighten the load.
Investigate in Advance
We’ve all been in the position of watching a movie with our kids when something comes on the screen that makes us want to leap to cover their eyes or ears. I know in our house, we’ve turned off more than one movie because of content.
And the truth is, with the technology available to us these days, it takes less than 5 minutes to look up the content of a movie, slightly longer to investigate a TV show.
Here are some tools to check out:
Internet Movie Database is a site that is usually my first stop to check content. It’s super easy to use, just type your movie or television show into the search bar to get started. Once on the page, scroll about half way down and click on “View Advisory Content”. (If there’s no content added, it will say “Add Content Advisory for Parents” instead). Note: IMDB also is a resource for TV shows, which you can review by episode.
Kids in Mind Movie Reviews is an outstanding site and usually incredibly thorough (sometimes even so thorough that a movie can seem worse than it actually is, so be aware). It can be hard to find some older movies here.
Plugged In reviews movies from a Christian perspective with ideas for discussion. Not as large of a selection of movies, but I like the discussion element here.
Take Control of Content
One of the most unique resources we’ve found is VidAngel. Have you ever said, “Man I wish we could watch that with the kids, but there’s that one scene…”
Not any more! VidAngel allows you to set filters on movies that you stream through other services like Netflix and Amazon. Click here to read how VidAngel works, and a review of its services.
There are lots of internet filters to choose from. The one that we have used for over 10 years is called Covenant Eyes, and it’s more than a filter. We are able to set boundaries on the content that is allowed, and that’s great. But we all know that any filter is fallible. Covenant Eyes adds an extra layer of protection by sending a list to parents of any questionable sites visited or searched. We have this installed on every phone, computer, iPad…any device with internet access. It’s an accountability measure as much as a filter.
Did you know that 70% of teens say that they’ve stumbled across porn accidentally? Click here to read about more ways to protect your family from online pornography.
If the App Fits
Apps are a whole different ballgame because they are not covered by any filter or protective software. This is an area that parents need to be on top of what is on their child’s phone or device. Regardless of what you decide is appropriate for your family, don’t neglect checking which apps are being used. Click here to read more about app usage.
I read an analogy recently on boundaries that stuck with me. Think about a rancher who has cattle. Would it be effective for him to put up fences after his cattle has already wandered off? Of course not! Setting boundaries on the content that our family consumes is no different. And it’s so much easier (and totally do-able) with the right tools!
What are some of your favorite ways to monitor media content?
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