App Review: Kids Media
The Kids Media app is from Common Sense Media, an organization that provides “independent age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites, books, and music.” In addition to overall quality ratings and recommended age ranges for each title, they provide evaluations in a number of very specific categories, such as Educational Value, Positive Role Models, Violence, Language, and Sex. (More information about their rating system is available online.) This highly granular and structured information is very valuable to parents and teachers when selecting media for their kid(s).
The app provides largely the same content as the Common Sense Media website, but it adds a few nifty features that take advantage of the mobile environment. The search screen includes a UPC barcode scanner, so you can quickly find information about an item in hand. (This feature recently came in very handy for me while combing through the clearance DVD bin of my local Best Buy.) The app also allows parents to create separate profiles for each of their children, so they can easily see which titles are recommended for each of their ages. The iOS version of the app includes links directly from the review pages of a some movie titles to their corresponding listings in the iTunes store app, but sadly this feature does not appear to be implemented for books, music, apps, or even TV shows. (The app is also available in Google Play, but I was not able to test the Android version. The Common Sense Media site includes an icon for a Kindle Fire version, but the link is broken, and the app does not appear in the Kindle app store.)
While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this app as a selection tool for librarians (The nature of the ratings makes self-censorship to tempting; Lester Ashiem would not approve.), it makes a fantastic tool for teachers and parents searching for the just-right movie, TV show, or app to meet their kids’ needs.