Common Sense Media
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.
However, they seem to take the educational factor too seriously sometimes and some of their reviews literally betray common sense.
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.
Why It's Rotten
- It is easily like IGN, except it reviews a bit of everything and from a parent's perspective (not from a journalist's).
- Like IGN, it's at times a slave to Electronic Arts and Activision.
- It tries too hard to force lessons into everything and seems to believe that everything will influence kids.
- For instance, it has given A Christmas Story 5/5 because Ralphie "learned his lesson on swearing".
- 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.
- 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 4-year-olds being sexualized and treated like fashion accessories.
- They also gave Teen Titans Go! a 4/5 despite the show teaching kids bad morals and lessons.
- Their review of Codename: Kids Next Door is a particularly bad offender, referring to the series as "slapstick plus" and ignorantly claiming that it's little more than mean-spirited behavior and excessive violence.
- They even gave the Jim Carrey movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective a 1/5 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.)
- 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.
- Speaking of education, they think that every show must be educational and criticize ones that entertain rather than educate. An example is SpongeBob SquarePants.
- They are also overly sensitive sometimes, believing that slight crushes or characters in 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" count as profanity.
- 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.
- Given the SJW tendencies, 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.
- 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.
- Their annual video game alternatives. 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're hypocritical. For example, Sonic Forces got a 1/5 because of the character being "too small" and Doom 3 was given also a 1/5 because of the game not being appropriate for children. 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.
- Marc Saltzman is a Social Justice Warrior since he will bash any game with an attractive female character such as Bayonetta 2.
- Additionally, the majority of the user reviewers consists of moral guardians, soccermoms, and people with similar mindsets to Saltzman.
- The site has a lot of internet trolls who give fake reviews of material and act like the Moral Guardians, for very silly reasons:
- One person gave a kids movie an 18+ rating, claiming it has nudity.
- Another claims that Care Bears rips off Scooby-Doo, although they have nothing in common. The same user also rated My Little Pony low just because Hasbro made it!
- A popular example of trolling reviews is the infamous user Rebecca Spark (AKA Naturecat1998) who not only has made bad reviews without any proof of the things written, but also has made several alt accounts all making bad reviews on shows.
- On their review of the Cartoon Network website, one person rated, not Cartoon Network, but its sister network, Boomerang, a 13+ because of a toilet.
- The user reviews for Molly of Denali are all ranting and raving about how a fake show called Fred and the Nature Gang is the best show ever (even though it doesn't exist) and bashing the show for no reason, making up false info like that Tooey is an animal abuser and that Grandpa Nat is a crybaby, even though he only cried in one episode.
- One of the same users even called Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum a ripoff of Little Einsteins and Babar a ripoff of Nature Cat Tales (which again, doesn't exist). this is the same user who made alt accounts to hate on shows mentioned on reason 11 on the third bullet list reason on reason 11.
- 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.
- A lot of the parents give things really high age ratings just because they think that it is so bad and no one should watch it. They often times complain too much about PG-13 violence (usually bloodless carnage) most commonly in superhero movies.
- 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...).
- They practically gave up on reviewing music, since their last reviewed album was 1000 Forms of Fear by Sia, released back in 2014.
- 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.
- Weird age rating spikes. Princess Mononoke used to have a 9+ rating, with the review even mentioning a mature 8 year old could handle it, but it got bumped to 12+.
- They tend to spoil pretty much anything they don't like.
- 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).
- Their 10 Worst TV Role Models list includes Seth MacFarlane, even though his shows are not intended for kids. Heck, even CSM knows that by giving Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, and American Dad 14-16+ age ratings.
- Most of the parent reviewers are also SJWs. Here are some Infamous examples.
- 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!
- The reviews put by Rebecca Spark and her alt accounts have not been taken down, despite them being extremely false and hated on.
- 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.
- 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.
- They give almost every M-rated game 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, despite the fact that 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 really most of the "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.
- 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).
- It does give certain things their appropriate ratings.
- It actually criticized the Violent Video Games Return Program for being what was basically a book burning.
- At least they didn't bash anime as they have a list of good anime for kids, tweens, and teens.
- They are at least responding to the Coronavirus situation, as you can see here.
- 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.
Despite favorable reviews from parents, Common Sense Media has been universally panned by the majority of the Internet, likely due to poor research, errors, being too picky/gullible about lessons and teaching kids from nonsense.
- Almost all the reviews shown on the images in the gallery are from Rebecca Spark's alt accounts/main account.
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