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The following post is sponsored by Netflix and their new family section. Thanks, Netflix!


This week Netflix launched netflix.com/families, which is why we went to visit their headquarters last month and why I'm writing here, today. Because I'm a netflix customer with a family and perhaps you are as well and their new update is all about families and helping parents vet content for their kids. (You can go here for more information on custom Netflix profiles, which will go live for all users later this summer. Or go here to read Kristen's post which was super helpful to me when setting up my profiles last night. Kristen rules.) 

Anyway, one of the conversations we had (while at Netflix) had to do with ratings, which is what I wanted to write about today, because I think the ratings system is total insanity and it's one of the reasons my kids watch so few movies. Er, NEW movies. Old movies are less traumatic because special effects weren't as special then. Or something.

Anyway, as you can see (in the above image, sorry the font is so small) the parental controls are ratings based. Which is awesome and vets a majority of content that may be unsuitable for kids. However, if you're like us and need more than just a rating to judge content a la language not being as much an issue, as say, violence/scary things, hi, let's talk. (Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are G rated and I'm not letting any of my kids near those movies until they're at least 16. And they can forget about Dumbo. I'm scarred for life after that one.)

Last weekend we all cuddled up with a bucket of popcorn and watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off (PG13) and everyone loved it. Including Bo. (Revi couldn't care less about television or movies. Bo will sit and watch with the big kids the entire time and fake laugh when they laugh, it's ridiculously cute.)
IMG_1753 Uh. This laugh is legit what are you saying?

Last post I wrote about My So Called Life. Today I wanted to take it back even farther to a show I owned on video casette and watched pretty much 24/7. When the theme song first came on, I kicked Hal in the face on accident because I was like, THIS DUDE TAKE A LOOK AT THE PEOPLEEEEE WHOOOO CAAAAAARE. Hal didn't get it, clearly because he didn't watch The Babysitter's Club. He didn't even read the books!

And then I was like DUDE. FABLE WILL LOVE THIS SHOW. Hold on, Fable is four, is that weird? What age IS The Babysitter's Club for really. I mean I used to babysit at age (nine?) for like twelve kids down the street and that was normal. In fact, I vividly remember reading The Babysitter's Club WHILE babysitting and thinking I was the coolest. Slow motion high five, Stacey! 

Saved by the Bell on the other hand... TOTALLY kid appropriate. Except for the Jessie Spano pill scene.

(My favorite thing about Netflix = alllll of the shows I grew up with. It's like comfort food for my eyeballs.)


I find shows directed at teens/tweens the least threatening of all the shows. Disney Channel's live action series for example. Teens are far too busy battling ego and dealing with boy/girl/friend/parents suck issues. Take Shake it Up! They have dance offs! Those are the battle scenes! I can dig that action, you guys!

Which brings me to the point I wanted to get to in this post but somehow got lost in old TVshow land: RATINGS. Most notably, how we vet our kids' content. After Cars 2 I will never trust the rating system again. And, yes I was a fool to in the first place but we live and we learn and hope for few casualties.

(ED: I can't watch anything even remotely scary. I am so sensitive to violence I will not sleep for days if gore is presented to me in any capacity. Which is why the only show I know anything about at the moment is Mad Men. And Friday Night Lights which we just started streaming because we are very fashionably late to the party of television, Hal and me.)

Anyway, one of my apples happens to fall VERY close to this tree which makes me all the more enthusiastic about policing violent/scary/content. (Bronies 4 lyf!) On the flip side, there's an apple that does not scare easily which makes things tricky because one of them CAN watch certain things and be perfectly fine and stoic and "I'm not scared, Mommy. Psh."

Anyway, I'll take a thousand f bombs and full frontal nudity before a gun fight any day. Which is why Common Sense Media is my new friend. (Thank you, Netflix HQ/Isabel for introducing me to my new favorite app. COMMON SENSE MEDIA 4 PREZ!) Netflix has recently teamed up with Common Sense Media to help you vet content outside of basic ratings as well as read user reviews. Awesome/super helpful.

Common Sense Media, if you aren't already familiar gives you the blow by blow of movies and certain television shows so you can familiarize yourself with the stories, scenes and explicit/violent nature of the content.  CSM is not affiliated with any political party, religious group, etc. It's just honest feedback for families. 

For example, here's what it has to say about Cars 2. (Click user reviews, ahem.) And this about Ferris Bueller's Day Off. (I especially like that it gives parents ideas for how to discuss more advanced themes with them. For example, this, which I copied and pasted from the Ferris Bueller page (linked to above):

Explore, discuss, enjoy

  • Families can talk about how people defy authority. Do your kids understand the difference between Ferris's fantasy presentation and what would really happen if they did what he did?
  • The filmmakers justify the hero's attitude as a healthy response to
    self-centered, dumb, and materialistic adults. Do you agree?
  • A good
    question would be whether the carefree Ferris is going to be any better
    when he grows up. If he grows up.

...Anyway, I happen to be a fan, can you tell?

What about you? What are your concerns in terms of content (specifically television and movies) your kids watch? Do you vet your kids' content first? What is off limits in your household and what ages (in your experience) do those "off limits things" become okay?  Do you trust ratings for the most part? Utilize services like Common Sense Media? Discuss themes with your kids after viewing*? How do you guys deal with the onslaught of media that exists? How do you wade through the crap to find the good stuff? Let me know in the comments for a chance to win a one year subscription to Netflix. (I'll choose one commenter at random next Thursday, June 28th.) Good luck, all, and thanks in advance for your insight on this one.

*Conversation is always the best policy, in my opinion. I may be the most annoying parent of all time but I will never stop asking questions. That's the deal in our house. EVERYTHING IS ON LIMITS LET'S DISCUSS!

UPDATED: Congrats to Katie Chapman for winning a one year subscription to Netflix! Thanks to all for your comments!



Krystan | 6:19 PM

My kids are 2 and 10 months, so luckily I haven't had to deal with this issue so much yet, but it has been on my mind. I was nervous letting my daughter see Sleeping Beauty because of the evil witch/dragon and the prince throwing a sword into the dragon's chest and killing it. She didn't seem phased. Also, I don't like those princess movies so much - we are more of a Tinkerbell house because Tink works with her hands, does stuff boys do, gets into trouble, but always is part of her own solution and not solely relying on a dude to save her. Thanks for letting me know about this new service - I'm sure we will be using it in the future.

Jennifer | 6:17 AM

My younger 2 are just 2 and 9mo so we're still watching PBS shows... but my older daughter is 21 and when she was growing up I pretty much went with the ratings system, but sometimes found out the hard way she saw something I wish she wouldn't have. I'm hoping its easier this time around, but with so many more options I have a bad feeling it won't be.


Cindy | 7:39 AM

I have a five year old biological daughter and a soon-to-be internationally adopted daughter who is 9. For my five year old, I am very careful. She is way sensitive to villains, violence, even scary faces. We have found comfort in My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Services. Great stories about girls, sisters. No villains, just nice adventure. She loves them. With our other daughter arriving home next year, we will also be very careful too. We are unsure of her past life and do not want to cause undue stress in any way. My husband and I will continue to prescreen the movies before we let them watch. Always has worked for us.