|Founder||James P. Steyer (CEO)|
Common Sense Media (CSM) is an organization that reviews and provides ratings for media and technology with the goal of providing information on their suitability for children.     It also funds research on the role of media in the lives of children  and advocates publicly for child-friendly policies and laws regarding media.  
Founded by Jim Steyer in 2003, Common Sense Media reviews and allows users to review also, divided into adult and child sections. It has reviews of books, movies, streaming/TV shows, video games, apps, websites, and podcasts and rates them in terms of age-appropriate educational content, such as "positive role models", "positive messages", diverse representation, "violence and scariness", "sexual content", "language", "consumerism" and more, for families and caregivers making media choices for their children. They have also developed a set of ratings to evaluate apps, games, and websites used in a learning environment.
Donations from foundations and individuals and fees from media partners finance Common Sense Media. Today, the organization distributes its content to more than 100 million US homes via partnerships with a variety of media and tech companies. Common Sense Media describes itself as "the nation’s largest membership organization dedicated to improving kids’ media lives".  By 2016, the organization had over 65 million unique users and worked with more than 275,000 educators across the United States.  Common Sense serves over 100 million users a year.  In 2016, Charlie Rose reported that Common Sense Media was the United States' largest non-profit dedicated to children's issues. 
In August 2020, CSM announced the formation of a for-profit subsidiary, Common Sense Networks, to create and distribute original media targeted at children.  Common Sense Networks then announced an OTT platform named Sensical, which launched June 29, 2021. 
After founding JP Kids, an educational media company for children, and Children Now, a national child advocacy and media group, Jim Steyer founded Common Sense Media in 2003. In an interview with The New York Times , Steyer said he intended to “create a huge constituency for parents and children in the same way that Mothers Against Drunk Driving or the AARP has done." The group received $500,000 in seed money from a group of donors including Charles Schwab, George Roberts, and James Coulter. 
To assess parents’ concern about their children's media habits, Common Sense Media commissioned a poll, which found that “64 percent [of parents with children aged 2–17] believed that media products in general were inappropriate for their families. It said that 81 percent expressed concern that the media in general were encouraging violent or antisocial behavior in children.” The polling firm, Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, said that “only one out of five interviewed ‘fully trusted' the separate industry-controlled ratings systems for music, movies, video games and television.” 
Common Sense Media reviews thousands of movies, TV shows, music, video games, apps, web sites and books. Based on developmental criteria, the reviews provide guidance regarding each title's age appropriateness, as well as a “content grid” that rates particular aspects of the title including educational value, violence, sex, gender messages and role models, and more. For each title, they indicate the age for which a title is either appropriate or most relevant. An overall five-star quality rating is also included, as are discussion questions to help families talk about their entertainment. In addition to CSM's traditional rating system, they also offer a set of learning based ratings, which are designed to determine complex educational values.  
CSM partners with a number of media companies that distribute the organization's free content to more than 100 million homes in the United States. According to their website, the organization has content distribution contracts with Road Runner, TiVo, Yahoo!, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DIRECTV, Disney, NBC Universal, Netflix, Best Buy, Google, AOL/Huffington Post, Fandango, Trend Micro, Verizon Foundation, Nickelodeon, Bing, Cox Communications, Kaleidescape, AT&T, and NCM.  The organization's current rating system differs from the system used by the Motion Picture Association of America and the Entertainment Software Rating Board. It has received positive support from some parents, and was singled out by US President Barack Obama as a model for using technology to empower parents.   Common Sense Media began allowing studios to use their ratings and endorsements in order to promote family-friendly movies in 2014. The first film to use the endorsement was Disney's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day . 
The website utilizes a metered paywall for thousands of its media reviews. Reading more than three media reviews per month requires a paid Common Sense Media subscription. 
As of 2016, the Common Sense Education program had grown to include over 300,000 member teachers in approximately 100,000 schools. 
In 2009, CSM partnered with Harvard University and the organization Global Kids to organize a three-way communication with parents, teenagers, and educators about issues faced in the online world. 
The organization has education programs for schools and other organizations to use with students and parents. 
The first product is a Parent Media and Technology Education Program that was launched in late 2008. The program includes a comprehensive library of resources, like tip sheets, workshop slides and script, videos, and discussion guides that educators can use to engage and educate parents about technology issues ranging from media violence and commercialism to cyberbullying and cellphone etiquette.
The second product, launched in 2009, is a K-12 Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum consisting of more than 60 lesson plans, student handouts, videos and interactive components that span three topic areas: Safety and Security, Digital Citizenship, and Research and Information Literacy. The curriculum was informed by research done by Howard Gardner's GoodPlay Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
The resources were developed with support from many foundations, including the Sherwood, MacArthur, and Hewlett Foundations, which enables CSM to offer these products to educators for free.
In 2012, CSM released its "Digital Passport," an online curriculum designed to teach children how to safely and responsibly navigate the Internet. The courses can be accessed for free by classroom teachers, who are then able to monitor their students' progress. Digital passport lessons are presented as games that reward progress with badges. 
In 2021, resources were updated for UK learners, fully translated to British English and Welsh, and available in every school. Lessons are built on the same curriculum with the addition of new teaching tools and activities. 
In 2013 CSM launched Graphite, an online resource for teachers that allows them to review and rate educational technology. The project is supported by Chicago philanthropist Susan Crown and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates' bgC3. 
Common Sense Media has played a role in influencing billions of dollars in government spending on education-related technologies including classroom broadband access and various learning apps. In April 2015, they launched the national advocacy effort, Common Sense Kids Action, to push for certain state and federal efforts to bolster education for children. 
The organization also helped Massachusetts Representative Edward Markey and Texas Representative Joe Barton draft legislation that required websites aimed at children under 13 to obtain parental permission before collecting personal information. According to The Wall Street Journal , the group also wanted websites to feature an "eraser button" that would allow children and teens to delete information that they've posted online about themselves. The group also favored a ban on "behavioral marketing" to children—ads targeted at children based on their online activities. 
In 2013, CSM pushed for the passing of California's "Eraser Bill". In 2014, they advocated the passing of California Senate Bill 1177, which prohibits the sale and disclosure of schools' online student data. The bill also forbids targeted ads based on school information and the creation of student profiles when not used for education purposes.  As of January 2015, social media websites must allow California children under age 18 to remove their own postings. 
In 2018, CSM advocated for the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).  CSM also endorsed the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), a ballot measure to protect the privacy rights of California consumers and increase penalties on corporations that fail to protect children’s privacy. 
CSM supported Stop Hate for Profit, a boycott where advertisers were asked to pull their ads from Facebook in response to the platform’s spread of misinformation and hate speech. In July 2020, over 500 companies joined the boycott, including Adidas, Coca-Cola, and Unilever. 
Founder Jim Steyer launched the Future of Tech Commission with former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. The Commission will develop a tech policy agenda for the Biden administration. 
Common Sense Media played a major role in the passage of the 2005 California law criminalizing the sale of violent video games to minors. The organization submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court regarding the case Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (formerly Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association).  They published a survey, conducted by Zogby International, which asked 2100 parents whether or not they supported the "video game ban bill" – CA Law AB 1793; results showed that 72% of the respondents expressed support for the bill, and another 75% held negative views of the video game industry when it comes to how they protect children from violent video games. 
On August 12, 2006, CSM protested to the Federal Trade Commission about the ESRB's rating downgrade of a revised version of Manhunt 2 from "Adults Only" to "Mature". It protested on the basis that the revised version of the game, which was censored to prevent the game from remaining banned in both countries, was still banned in the UK via the ratings given by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). They also noted that players could still play a "leaked uncensored version" of Manhunt 2 on modded PlayStation 2, as Take-Two Interactive mentioned. The organization asked the FTC to launch a federal investigation into the ESRB rating process, citing the wide availability of the leaked version and the damage to children that the censored version still had. 
Questioning whether Common Sense Media had begun functioning as a lobbying group rather than advocacy group the Los Angeles Times called the organization "one of the most zealous voices when it comes to encouraging state legislation limiting the sale of ultra-violent games to minors" and was "splitting hairs" regarding the difference between lobbying and advocacy in its efforts. 
Common Sense Media participated in the FCC's Child Obesity Taskforce in April 2006 and hosted Beyond Primetime, a panel discussion and conference on issues related to children and media, featuring lead executives from the nation's top media. 
In June 2006, CSM and The Department of Clinical Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health released a white paper, which outlines the ways that media exposure can impact children's health. The paper evaluated 173 media-related studies from the past 28 years and concluded that "In 80% of the studies, greater media exposure is associated with negative health outcomes for children and adolescents." 
In October 2006, the organization released a white paper compiled from existing research on body image perceptions in children and teens. The paper states more than half of boys as young as 6 to 8 think their ideal weight is thinner than their current size and that children with parents who are dissatisfied with their bodies are more likely to feel that way about their own. 
In September 2017, CSM released a study which it developed in collaboration with the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism focused on families in both Japan and America and technology use. Surveys of families in the United States were compared to surveys of Japanese families and found that both countries struggle with the impact of technology on family life and relationships. 
Common Sense Media released a PSA with Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in 2017 called Device Free Dinner which featured Will Ferrell as a distracted dad at the dinner table, in order to raise awareness for responsible technology and media usage. 
Common Sense is an endorser of the SUCCESS Act & Common Sense Media has partnered with ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners to encourage low income families to claim money due to them through the newly improved Child Tax Credit -- as much as $3,600 per child in an eligible family for one year.  
Common Sense Media's Program for the Study of Media and Children provides data relating to the developmental influence of technology on children.  
Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves, and thereby express themselves selectively.
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) is a United States federal law, located at 15 U.S.C. §§ 6501–6506.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a self-regulatory organization that assigns age and content ratings to consumer video games in the United States and Canada. The ESRB was established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association, in response to criticism of controversial video games with excessively violent or sexual content, particularly after the 1993 congressional hearings following the releases of Mortal Kombat, Ballz and Night Trap for home consoles and Doom for home computers. The industry, pressured with potential government oversight of video game ratings from these hearings, established both the IDSA and the ESRB within it to create a voluntary ratings system based on the Motion Picture Association of America film rating system with additional considerations for video game interactivity.
Nick.com is a website owned and developed by Nickelodeon. The website previously served as an online portal for Nickelodeon content, and offered online games, video streaming, radio streaming and individual websites for each show it broadcasts. It now promotes the Nick mobile app which replaced it. Nick.com has received positive critical reaction and various awards, including a Webby in 2003. Positive praise has also been received because of the steps taken by the website to protect user privacy. Visits to the domain outside the United States are redirected to YTV in Canada, Nick.de in Germany or to the domestic network site of the visiting IP's nation or region due to programming licensing issues between territories.
Freedom of information is freedom of a person or people to publish and consume information. Access to information is the ability for an individual to seek, receive and impart information effectively. This sometimes includes "scientific, indigenous, and traditional knowledge; freedom of information, building of open knowledge resources, including open Internet and open standards, and open access and availability of data; preservation of digital heritage; respect for cultural and linguistic diversity, such as fostering access to local content in accessible languages; quality education for all, including lifelong and e-learning; diffusion of new media and information literacy and skills, and social inclusion online, including addressing inequalities based on skills, education, gender, age, race, ethnicity, and accessibility by those with disabilities; and the development of connectivity and affordable ICTs, including mobile, the Internet, and broadband infrastructures".
Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) is a Washington, D.C.–based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organisation that advocates for digital rights and freedom of expression. CDT seeks to promote legislation that enables individuals to use the internet for purposes of well-intent, while at the same time reducing its potential for harm. It advocates for transparency, accountability, and limiting the collection of personal information.
Internet privacy involves the right or mandate of personal privacy concerning the storing, re-purposing, provision to third parties, and displaying of information pertaining to oneself via Internet. Internet privacy is a subset of data privacy. Privacy concerns have been articulated from the beginnings of large-scale computer sharing and especially relate to mass surveillance enabled by the emergence of computer technologies.
BrainPop is a group of children's educational websites based in New York City. It hosts over 1,000 short animated movies for students in grades K–12, together with quizzes and related materials, covering the subjects of science, social studies, English, math, engineering and technology, health, arts and music. In 2022, Kirkbi A/S, the private investment and holding company that owns a controlling stake in Lego, acquired BrainPop.
Generation Z, colloquially known as zoomers, is the demographic cohort succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha. Researchers and popular media use the mid-to-late 1990s as starting birth years and the early 2010s as ending birth years. Most members of Generation Z are children of Generation X.
danah boyd is a technology and social media scholar. She is a partner researcher at Microsoft Research, the founder and president of Data & Society Research Institute, and a visiting professor at New York University.
Digital footprint or digital shadow refers to one's unique set of traceable digital activities, actions, contributions and communications manifested on the Internet or digital devices. Digital footprints can be classified as either passive or active. The former is composed of a user's web-browsing activity and information stored as cookies. The latter is often released deliberately by a user to share information on websites or social media. While the term usually applies to a person, a digital footprint can also refer to a business, organization or corporation.
The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) is an international nonprofit organization. It is registered as a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit charity in the United States and a registered charity in the United Kingdom. FOSI was founded in February 2007 by Stephen Balkam, who had created the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA). FOSI is chaired by Dave Pierce, Vice President of Public Affairs, NCTA.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an international non-profit digital rights group based in San Francisco, California. The foundation was formed on 10 July 1990 by John Gilmore, John Perry Barlow and Mitch Kapor to promote Internet civil liberties.
The term digital citizen is used with different meanings. According to the definition provided by Karen Mossberger, one of the authors of Digital Citizenship: The Internet, Society, and Participation, digital citizens are "those who use the internet regularly and effectively." In this sense a digital citizen is a person using information technology (IT) in order to engage in society, politics, and government.
Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 564 U.S. 786 (2011), was a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court that struck down a 2005 California law banning the sale of certain violent video games to children without parental supervision. In a 7–2 decision, the Court upheld the lower court decisions and nullified the law, ruling that video games were protected speech under the First Amendment as other forms of media.
James Pearson Steyer is an American children's advocate, civil rights attorney, professor and author. He founded Common Sense Media, an organization that "provides education and advocacy to families to promote safe technology and media for children."
Everloop was an online social media site specifically made for children ages 8-13.
MediaSmarts is a Canadian non-profit organization and registered charity based in Ottawa, Ontario, that focuses on digital and media literacy programs and resources. In particular, the organization promotes critical thinking via educational resources and analyzes the content of various types of mass media.
Securly, Inc. is an American company based in San Jose, California and incorporated in Delaware. It develops and sells internet filters, spyware, and other technologies which primary and secondary schools use to monitor students' web browsing, web searches, video watching, social media posts, emails, online documents, and drives. It was founded in 2013.
Sharenting is the practice of parents publicizing sensitive content about their children on internet platforms. While the term was coined as recently as 2010, sharenting has become an international phenomenon with widespread presence in the United States, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom. As such, sharenting has also ignited disagreement as a controversial application of social media. Detractors find that it violates child privacy and hurts a parent-child relationship. Proponents frame the practice as a natural expression of parental pride in their children and argue that critics take sharenting posts out of context.