Movies, music, video games–we live in a digital world, and most of our entertainment is either on our home televisions or smartphone devices. With such easy access to downloadable content and new movies coming out each week, what’s a parent to do? If you’ve read my articles on G-, PG-, PG-13 and R-rated movies, you know there aren’t many wholesome options to choose from these days.
Thankfully, you aren’t alone. There are several online organizations that sense your frustration and do their best to evaluate the latest entertainment, so you can make the best choices for you, your kids and your family. Check out my top three recommendations:
- Plugged In
Focus on the Family launched Plugged In to “shine a light on the world of popular entertainment.” By reviewing movies, videos, music, TV shows and games, they help families make wise, educated decisions about their viewing options.In addition to reviews, Plugged In provides articles, polls, movie-night discussion guides, news and other tools to help guide those who want to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”
You can even take Plugged In with you, so you can make informed decisions when you are standing in the ticket line. Just download their app! Plugged In gives movies an overall rating (1 to 5 “plugs”), a generalized content caution, and reviews each movie in terms of violence, sexual content, language, and drug and alcohol use. But first, they address the movie’s positive elements and spiritual content, which makes this site particularly unique.
- Kids In Mind
The tagline says it all: “Film ratings and parents’ reviews that actually work.” The content is free to access, but due to the economic turn-down, the site now offers a paid membership for full, premium access at $25 per year. This gives members an ad-free site with the opportunity to read reviews before the general public. And they can do that because they are the most popular movie review site. Kids-in-mind.com is the first website to appear in Google search results for “movie ratings,” even surpassing the MPAA’s official site.Kids In Mind does not operate under a Christian worldview and is not affiliated with any religious organization, but gives it parents the necessary information to make an objective decision based on their own value system.
Their goal is to be entirely objective—not criticizing or praising any particular film—and strays from “preaching.” They use a numerical rating system (1 through 10) and assign each film three distinct categories: sex and nudity, violence and gore, and profanity (which include religious profanities).
Kids in Mind is a fantastic resource and their purpose can best be summed up in their own words: “We consider ourselves consumer reporters, reporting on the most consumed entertainment product on the planet. Our reviews are basically a list of ingredients, similar to what you find on food item labels.” So don’t expect opinions here—expect cold, hard facts.
- Movie Guide
Movie Guide celebrated its 30th birthday this year and is touted as the “family guide to movies and entertainment.” Unlike Kids In Mind, this site isn’t shy about vocalizing their opinions, offering several “Top 10” lists, and is affiliated with the Christian Film & Television Commission ministry (CFTVC). The website and its affiliated ministries are:”…dedicated to redeeming the values of the entertainment industry, according to biblical principles, by influencing industry executives and artists and by informing and educating the public about the influence of the entertainment media and about how to train their families to become media-wise, so they can choose the good and reject the bad.”
Like Plugged In, Movie Guide offers news, videos, articles, interviews and other tools to help parents make wise choices in regard to entertainment. And like both Kids In Mind and Plugged In, they, too, review content in four categories: language, violence, sex, and nudity. Each category is rated either “None,” “Light,” “Moderate” or “Heavy.”
We’re curious: what source do you use when selecting family-friendly entertainment?