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Common Sense Media has a new way to measure character

The US nonprofit has launched a new ratings tool designed to help parents discover and select content that portrays character strengths that support childhood development.
March 9, 2016

The importance of promoting social and emotional intelligence among kids has received more attention as of late, and US nonprofit Common Sense Media is taking note.

The organization has launched a new ratings tool designed to help parents discover, use, and select TV shows and films that portray character strengths that can support childhood development.

According to recent Common Sense Media reports, American tweens and teens spend six and nine hours a day, respectively, consuming media. And when it comes to their children’s educations, the top concern among parents pertains to social and emotional learning.With those metrics in mind, Common Sense’s new ratings system is meant to help today’s media-savvy kids make informed content choices.

More than 600 movies and TV shows will be rated at commonsensemedia.org, where parents can also find conversation guides to help them talk to their kids about the pro-social messages in each program.

Character strengths – and there are 11 of them, including Integrity, compassion and perseverance – were chosen following a review of 133 articles and books, as well as 15 expert interviews. In addition to consulting with a multidisciplinary advisory council of academics, educators and Hollywood executives, Common Sense Media conducted both an online survey of parents and grandparents, and focus groups with parents and teachers, before its internal team of editors and educators finalized the list of character strengths.

Common Sense Media is also in discussions with content providers about incorporating storylines that include character strengths, not unlike the way in which the organization has been working with Hollywood to highlight other important issues for kids, such as cyberbullying.

The new ratings initiative is funded by the John Templeton Foundation and the Bezos Family Foundation, and it officially launched during a panel discussion at this week’s SXSWedu, which is taking place in Austin, Texas.

About The Author
Wendy is Kidscreen’s Associate Editor. When she’s not sourcing material for the brand's daily email newsletter, she’s researching, writing and connecting with others about the newest trends in digital media. Contact Wendy at wgoldman@brunico.com.

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