Coalition for Quality Children's Media

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Baseline criteria:

NO gratuitous violence or sexual behavior
NO physical or verbal abuse
NO racial, gender, cultural or religious bias
NO condescension toward children
NO unsafe behavior

Remember to adhere closely to KIDS FIRST!® baseline criteria when evaluating a product.

No gratuitous violence or sexual behavior

Sometimes gratuitous violence and sexual behavior are 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? Are children being subjected to sexual behavior that is inappropriate and/or misleading? If a video or CD-ROM contains more violence and sexual behavior than a Juror feels necessary, reject the title with a thorough explanation or specific description.

No physical or verbal abuse

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's used.

No racial, gender, culture, or religious bias

Supporting cultural diversity begins by learning how to recognize stereotypical images. 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 and by age five, children understand cultural identity and can identify stereotypes. By age nine, racial attitudes tend to stay constant unless the child experiences a life-changing event. We consider religious bias to be a program that promotes one religious point of view and discourages any other religious beliefs or considers them unacceptable. Watch how cultures and ethnicities are portrayed. Note also gender stereotypes.

No condescension toward children

Talking down to kids-- whether it's the tone of voice or "dumbing down," is central to this issue. For example, in one evaluated video of the Rugrats series, an older character says to younger ones, "You stupid babies." This is both verbal abuse and condescension because of negative modeling. With this example, Jurors should mark both verbal abuse and condescension on your evaluation and explain why. Some programming may be misleading or inappropriate for a targeted age group. Remember: Jurors may alter producer's recommended age.

No unsafe behavior

A title was submitted for evaluation called "Kids at Play Safely," and ironically, was rejected because it modeled many unsafe activities such as kids learning to ride sheep and being tossed off. The video could have been a useful way to teach safety measures had it explained further the dangers involved in these types of activities. Instead, this title met the rejection criteria for obvious reasons.

NOTE: If there is something in the video or CD-ROM that concerns you and your sense of a child's safety, tell us what it is and why you believe it is unsafe with thorough explanations and specific descriptions.

Other Reasons for Rejection

An Adult Juror may reject a title on the basis that it contains inaccurate information that could be misleading to a Children's Jury. For example, a title may contain inaccurate scientific facts or incorrect use of foreign language. NOTE: A Juror can reject a title for their own reasons as long as they provide a valid explanation. If you are tempted to reject a title simply because you think the kids will reject it (find it boring, slow, or not well produced) STOP! It is your responsibility to put the video or CD-ROM to the test with children. You could be pleasantly surprised. That's one of the reasons why we pride the KIDS FIRST!® endorsement as adult-approved, and kid-tested.

Accepted titles are rated as All Star, Yes, or Qualified Yes. (See boxes on the left) Adult Jurors keep accepted titles. All evaluations are completed in detail by the Adult Juror, and both evaluations and rejected products are returned to the CQCM's office. Again, a rejected title must fail to meet either a specific baseline criterion, or be rejected for another reason with a thorough explanation and specific description.

NOTE: A rejected title is NOT shown to the Children's Jury and is returned to the CQCM office.

NOTE: It is important for all Adult Jurors to remember that KIDS FIRST!® does not solely evaluate educational titles. Some products are for entertainment. For example, rejecting a title considered "not educational enough" is invalid. Some videos are not educational at all! Conversely, some products are marketed strictly for educational purposes. In that case, it would be inappropriate to reject a title because it was "too educational - lacking in fun."

We love reading Juror comments such as: "My child enjoyed naming the animals" or "My daughter loved learning the words to the songs." These indicate product strengths regardless of educational or entertainment qualifications. At KIDS FIRST!® we believe good materials for kids combine both elements. It is the Jurors' responsibility to evaluate product based on appeal, content, production quality, and benefits. Those benefits can be educational or they may be purely entertainment. That's fine!

Where would you like to go next?


1. General Procedures

2. Evaluation Procedure

3. Guidelines: Working with Young Jurors

4. Criteria for Accepting/Rejecting Titles

5. The Evaluation Form

6. Talk to Us