Common Sense Media

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Common Sense Media
Commonsense-logo.jpg
They don't have common sense at all.
a.k.a.: CSM
Type of site: Nonprofit organization
Language: English
Created by: James P. Steyer
Owner: James P. Steyer
Date of launch: February 27, 2003
Status: Active

Common Sense Media is a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that provides education and advocacy to families to promote safe technology and media for children.

Founded by Jim Steyer in 2003, Common Sense Media reviews books, movies, TV shows, video games, apps, music, and websites and rates them in terms of age-appropriate educational content, positive messages/role models, violence, sex and profanity, and more for parents making media choices for their kids. Common Sense Media has also developed a set of ratings that are intended to gauge the educational value of videos, games, and apps. The nonprofit's "Learning Ratings" attempt to assess different types of learning qualities within various forms of media.

It is primarily used by parents, particularly conservative Christian parents to see if media is "appropriate" for kids.

As of 2021, Common Sense Media's reviews for media are under a metered paywall. Users who want to access more than three media reviews per month must buy a subscription called Common Sense Media Plus. You can get around this by wiping the browser data on DuckDuckGo and coming back to the site when you've reached your fourth article.

Why It Lacks Common Sense

  1. Their writers write things like they have a negative opinion just because the movie, TV show, video game, is inappropriate for a certain age group.
  2. It is easily like IGN, except it reviews a bit of everything and from a parent's perspective (not from a journalist's):
    1. Some writers point out every little bad thing in a show they don't like, because it often doesn't support their political opinions. But they fail to mention major bad things in shows they do like, because they want to promote it and their political opinions. Then they give it 5 stars and mislead parents into letting their kids watch it. This especially happens with one "writer" named Emily Ashby.
    2. Any websites, media, and articles that discredit politicians they don't like are immediately given five stars.
    3. Like IGN, it's at times a slave to Electronic Arts and Activision.
    4. For instance, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5 was given 3/5. Common Sense Media has also automatically given any Call of Duty game and Star Wars Battlefront II (EA) 4/5.
    5. The 2016 Ghostbusters game got 3/5 from Common Sense Media.
  3. They sometimes pan things that have been well received, and vice versa.
  4. It tries too hard to find lessons into everything and seems to believe that everything will influence kids:
    1. For instance, it has given A Christmas Story 5/5 because Ralphie "learned his lesson on swearing".
    2. It has also given Home Alone 4/5 because "it shows that kids can do just fine home alone and it shows that violence is a good way to solve problems". In reality, it is a bad idea to leave one's child behind when going on vacation. Additionally, if burglars break into your house, call the police.
    3. It gave Toddlers and Tiaras 2/5 but listed nothing about child abuse in their review. Judging by the review, they seem to have given it an extra star because it might teach kids about pageants. Education is most certainly nowhere more important than having toddlers being sexualized, abused and treated like fashion accessories.
    4. They also gave Teen Titans Go! a 3/5 in postitve messages, despite the show teaching kids bad lessons and morals.
    5. Their review of Codename: Kids Next Door is a particularly bad offender, as they gave it a 1/5, referring to the series as "slapstick plus" and ignorantly claiming that it's little more than mean-spirited behavior and excessive violence.
    6. They gave 13 Reasons Why a 4/5, even though the show is infamous and controversial for glamourizing suicide into thinking it's a good thing, when it really isn't.
    7. Similarly, they gave The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! a 1/5 for stereotyping Italians, which is ironic, considering Captain Lou Albano is Italian-American.
    8. Chad (2021) got a 4/5 despite the show being very mean-spirited and controversial at itself, as well as the show having characters committing felonies, which is pretty unfair compared to other shows that got lower ratings due to this.
    9. They even gave the Jim Carrey movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective a 1/5 because it's "dumb-humor" and it doesn't really have any positive messages despite it being an OK movie in general. They also said it was "filled with gross-out humor", despite it mostly being slapstick comedy or just silly. (There is a scene where Ace throws up, but thankfully none is shown. The scene is also quite transphobic and hasn't aged well.)
    10. They gave many good shows including all 4 TMNT Animated Programs, a 2/5, saying that if it is not educational, they will get a bad score.
    11. They gave Crash of Cars a 1/5, even though the cars don't have any drivers visible in them, only shoot "blobs", and no blood/gore is shown.
    12. They gave the childrens' animated series Eliot Kid a 2/5, which is reasonable because the show's not very good in general, but it is because the protagonist's adventures involve breaking the rules. Bruh!
  5. Speaking of education, they think that every show must be educational and criticize ones that entertain rather than educate. An example is SpongeBob SquarePants.
  6. They are also overly sensitive sometimes, believing that slight crushes or relationships in kids' media count as "sexy stuff". They also seem to think all insult words, exclamations, and potty words, such as "stupid", "dumb", "jerk", "poop", "idiot", "shut up", "darn it", and even "heck", "loser" and "hopscotch" (which makes no sense since that's nowhere near a mean word) count as profanity.
  7. Most reviews are biased and they appear nostalgia-pandering as seem to give almost every kids' and/or classic movie, TV show or video game a good rating, and barely pay much attention to whether or not it is actually good.
    • An example of a biased rating is their review of the 1995 Mortal Kombat film.
    • Homestar Runner got a 15+, and the review is vague and short, only being two sentences long. As noted, the reviews also oppose the review. A post on Reddit mocks this as well.
  8. They base many of their movie reviews more on ideology than on quality. For example, they gave The Red Pill a bad review and called Cassie Jay a bad role model simply because they didn't agree with her ideology.
  9. As for media aimed at teenagers and adults, Common Sense Media tends to treat them like children's media as well and hardly ever gives them positive reviews.
  10. Their annual video game alternatives tend to be a joke. For example, in the 2014 list Lego Marvel Super Heroes as a substitute for Grand Theft Auto V, even though it feels nothing like the latter, and Lego City Undercover would've been a better choice, since the whole game was meant to be a spoof of GTA, even if they may have mistook Lego City Undercover for Lego Marvel Super Heroes.
    • Sometimes they can lack knowledge, for example In their "Violent Video Games of 2013 List", they put Gears of War 3 in it even though that game was released in 2011.
    • They think Avatar: The Last Airbender is anime when it actually isn't.
  11. They're hypocritical. For example, Doom 3 was given a 1/5 because of the game not being appropriate for children (when at the time the star ratings for their older reviews were affected by age appropriateness). Yet they give every Grand Theft Auto game either a 4/5 or a 5/5 on CSM. Even Dead Space 2 got a perfect five. Another example is that they gave SpongeBob SquarePants a 3/5 for not being educational. Yet they gave The Loud House a 4/5 and there's nothing educational in that show.
  12. The age ratings of some media are unfitting, like giving Warcraft 3 an 18+ when it has a T rating, or giving Silicon Valley, Schitt's Creek and F is For Family 14+ ratings even though all of them are rated TV-MA. It may've been lower due to 2016 revamp, as Mad Max: Fury Road originally had a 18+, but reduced to 16+ after the revamp. Prior the revamp, they would give M-rated games 18+ most of the time.
  13. Half of the things they say about the YouTubers is just either to keep hating on with reasons that aren't true or just pure nonsense (which according to them is actually "common sense" apparently).
  14. They practically gave up on reviewing music, since their last reviewed album was 1000 Forms of Fear by Sia, released back in 2014.
  15. Sometimes, they give niche audience shows a 4 or 5/5 solely because they are educational, which has no effect on the quality of a show.
  16. They tend to spoil pretty much anything they don't like.
  17. Some of their posters they use on their reviews lack research. A prominent one is used in the Cartoon Network website review, which is normal at first glance, but if one looks closely, SpongeBob is in it for some reason (although he is a Nickelodeon character).
  18. Their 10 Worst TV Role Models list includes Seth MacFarlane characters, although his shows are not even intended for kids. Heck, even CSM knows that by giving his shows 14-16+ age ratings.
  19. Being an American non-profit company, CSM rarely reviews content from other countries. For example, they cannot review a Canadian TV show aimed for kids called Being Ian even though it contains nudity!
  20. They gave the controversial French film Cuties on Netflix a 4/5 and gave it a 15+ age rating and kneeled to the extremely hypocritical message of the film. There isn't anything else to say about that.
  21. They claim they review websites, movies, TV shows, apps, video games, books, and even music, but they barely ever review books, apps, websites, or (and especially rarely) music. Most of them only review movies, TV shows, or video games.
  22. As mentioned before, prior to the revamp, they give almost every M-rated game (also known as 16 or 18 in the UK) an 18+ rating, despite most M-rated games being suitable for most teens or even mature kids. One example is they gave Halo: The Master Chief Collection an 18+ rating, even though kids as young as 8 years old would probably be able to handle it. They also had "violence" marked as 5/5 (on Halo MCC) when it really isn't realistic, as you're mainly killing aliens instead of humans and most of "blood and gore" is purple or blue.
    • Ironically, they gave Halo 5: Guardians, which has pretty much the same levels of violence as the rest of the Halo games, a 13+ rating. They also gave it a perfect 5, despite it basically being the weakest game in the series.
  23. Recently they have a paid subscription service (where non-subscribers can only read up to 3 reviews per month) called Common Sense Media Plus. The monthly and yearly cost is too overpriced and unnecessary as the site is only for looking up reviews and not something more worthwhile such as streaming shows/movies! This shows that they just care about money now!
    • This could also mean that they did this to avoid criticism from parents that are against Cuties which they created the subscription service after they reviewed it.
  24. Some of the articles are either short, poorly made or incomplete.
  25. They gave every Chucky movie a 2 or 1 star rating just because it's so called dumb, they did this to other movies, here are some examples.
  26. Their reviews for Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Godzilla vs. Kong are extremely biased. As they gave Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Godzilla vs. Kong a 2/5 just because they were focused more on the monsters and action and didn't have a complex plot. Do they seriously want a melodramatic soap opera about love triangles and politics in a giant monster movie?
  27. They are ridiculously biased towards Disney. They always give Disney movies and TV shows a 4/5 or 5/5 just because they are Disney. Even some mediocre or bad Disney movies like Chicken Little or Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience have good scores (more specifically a 3/5)!

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Sometimes it provides good information, such as listing actual inappropriate moments in media rather than just slight crushes or mild insults, and their articles sometimes give good tips on how to choose good media for kids (for instance, how to take your kid to a movie theater for the first time).
  2. It does give certain things their appropriate ratings.
  3. It actually criticized the Violent Video Games Return Program for being what was basically a book burning.
  4. At least they didn't bash anime as a whole, as they have a list of good anime for kids, tweens, and teens.
  5. The reason that they mark normal non-physical relationships or general insults as profanity or sex can be attributed to the fact that they need to be really careful because there are parents out there who hate that stuff and don't want their kids getting exposed to it.
  6. Their "expert review" videos, while they don’t show up a lot, are fairly well-edited.
  7. They can be considered a "so bad its good" company.

Reception

Despite favorable reviews from parents, Common Sense Media has been panned by the majority of the Internet, likely due to poor research, errors, being too picky/gullible about lessons and teaching kids from nonsense.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Almost all the reviews shown on the images in the gallery are from Rebecca Spark's alt accounts/main account.

References


Videos

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