Juror Manual

How to Evaluate Children's Media Using KIDS FIRST! Criteria

Every title you evaluate will receive both a rating (endorsed/not endorsed) and a ranking (1-, 2- or 3-stars). Titles which do not meet baseline criteria are never endorsed.

KIDS FIRST! Baseline Criteria

At the bare minimum, any title that you recommend for endorsement must meet or exceed the following criteria:

  • NO gratuitous violence or abuse
  • NO inappropriate sexual behavior
  • NO inappropriate language
  • NO bias in terms of race, gender, culture or religion
  • NO condescension toward children
  • NO replicable unsafe behavior
Explanation of Baseline Criteria

No gratuitous violence or abuse, including both physical and/or verbal abuse

  • Sometimes gratuitous violence is hidden under the guise of cartoons or animation. Jurors may overlook violence in cartoons without realizing that violent words or actions are still communicated to an audience. Children are highly affected by violent programs, which may encourage them to act out in aggressive ways or desensitize them to others' pain and suffering.
  • When evaluating programs that may contain gratuitous violence, pay attention to interactions between characters, types of weapons used, injuries or pain, "cool villains," funny violence, and conflict resolution. Does the violence help to get across a message central to the plot, or is it just blood, gore, and guts? If a video or CD-ROM contains more violence than a Juror feels necessary, reject the title with a thorough explanation and specific description.
  • Name-calling, teasing, slapstick humor, foul language, hitting, punching, kicking, causing bodily harm, property destruction and disrespect are all types of abuse that seep through the cracks of children's media and into the eyes, ears and minds of children. Children then learn to model these types of negative behaviors. As an Adult Juror, it is your challenge to spot this type of abuse and identify it as such. There is no cut-and-dry rule here. Some "rough-stuff" may be used good-naturedly, or some may be central to the plot, making a point. This all depends on the context of the program and how it is used.

No inappropriate sexual behavior

Are children being subjected to sexual behavior that is inappropriate and/or misleading? Any sexual behavior present must be age-appropriate and integral to the storyline. If a film (or other media) contains more sexual behavior than you feel is suitable for the age of its intended audience, reject the title with an explanation in the qualitative portion of the evaluation form.

No inappropriate language

Profanity has crept into our language even in programming meant for a youth audience. Some mild profanity may be deemed acceptable for older kids, ages 12 and up but certainly, not for our younger viewers - those 11 and under. You will need to use your own judgment for this. Certain words, such as the F* word, are inappropriate under any circumstances. Use the qualitative portion of the form to define any marginal words you find and point out their usage.

No bias in terms of race, gender, culture or religion

Bias affects children in ways we might not realize. Research indicates that:

  • Children as young as age two notice and begin to classify differences in gender and race.
  • Children as young as age three are susceptible to believing stereotypes.
  • Children at age five understand cultural identity and can identify stereotypes.
  • Children at age nine believe stereotypes are correct unless they experience a major life experience to
    the contrary.

Religious bias in media promotes one religious point of view and discourages any other religious beliefs or considers them unacceptable. It is important to notice how people’s differences are portrayed and what, if any, stereotyping you see.

No condescension toward children

  • Talking down to kids is sometimes tricky to spot as many of us are used to hearing kids spoken to in this manner. It may be a tone of voice, or the “dumbing down” of information. Examples of this are main characters that use “baby talk” or a show for 8 to 12-year-olds that explains basic concepts that are appropriate for much younger children.
  • Characters should impart an attitude that assumes children are intelligent and capable of understanding, without using language or concepts that are either too old or too young for the intended age group.

No replicable unsafe behavior

Unsafe behaviors that are "replicable" are those in which kids could become intrigued by what they see enough to try it on their own. For example, we rejected one film that was about children's safety because, in an attempt to show what was unsafe, it modeled many unsafe activities that kids might enjoy.

Summary

Pay attention to the KIDS FIRST! baseline criteria when evaluating films or other media. You will be giving everything both a qualitative and quantitative score. Use the qualitative portion to explain why you gave the score you did.

Introduction
Evaluation Process
Using KIDS FIRST! Criteria
Evaluation Attributes and Forms
Ratings
Rejecting a Title
About Your Forms
Children’s Jury
Tips for Working With Children
Tips by Age
Let's Get Started - Sample Review
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