In Edited Movies, Part One, we discussed why to use edited movies (and if you even should.)
If you decide that they might be a good fit for your family (or even if you are using regular movies), here are five tools and companies I am familiar with and have used when trying decide which movies to watch, whether they would be better edited, and how to find edited versions. I hope it helps you in your decision making.
First, I find out what is actually in the show. And as most of you know, ratings have very little to do with anything. Chris Hicks wrote a really interesting book called Has Hollywood Lost It's Mind? on the movie rating system and how it has changed over the years. Super interesting and super informational. You can read a review of it here.
To find out what is in each movie, I LOVE www.kids-in-mind.com. It will tell you every. single. little. thing. that is in the movie. R rated, G rated, it doesn't matter--it tells you EVERYTHING. Every swear word, every punch, every kiss, every outfit. But you have to be kind of careful, because it can sound overblown sometimes. I looked up Pride and Prejudice and the movie sounded awful.
www.commonsensemedia.org also gives age appropriate recommendations and reviews. They have reviews from both parents AND kids, which is kind of cool. However, every family has different opinions on what "age appropriate" is, so for thoroughness, I like kids-in-mind better.
Ok, so filtering is kind of tricky. To protect the movie maker's copyright, no one can intentionally edit or filter a movie and then sell it or rent it out. Several companies have gone out of business because they sold edited movies and then were sued or prosecuted. So legally, you have to have the movie (rented or owned) in hand and then filter it, not before.
I have used Clearplay for years. They were the first legal company on the scene of editing, and I am very grateful to them.
Here's how it works: They have a special dvd player they sell that has a usb port in it. Additionally, you also purchase a Clearplay membership, which means you are basically purchasing the filters. They give you access to download the filters on the usb and once you plug it into the dvd player, voila! You have a filter that works on the regular dvd.
The Good: Edited movies that are customizable--you get to pick the intensity of the filters. Their editing is also very smooth- if they take out a swear word, often I don't notice that anything was even there. This is a great option for movies you already own. They are also beginning to offer streamed movies when you rent them from Google Play.
The Bad: The dvd players in my opinion seem to be low quality--especially for the price. Also, if your kids are used to watching a certain movie on Clearplay, sometimes they can forget about the editing if they go to a friend's house. They might remember the movie as being "approved" but could forget that the friends don't have a Clearplay dvd player and could be unpleasantly surprised to see the movie without filters. (This happened at a family reunion once. Cousins brought a movie that they were used to seeing on Clearplay, but used a standard dvd player. Let's just say that Grandpa was a little shocked!) ;)
Also, if there is a movie that we LOVE in it's edited form and want to own, I don't love having to own the original that I don't feel comfortable watching without the filter--it's a bad situation waiting to happen. The lag time between when a movie is released and when the filter is ready can be a bit disappointing as well.
The Ugly: You have to keep your membership current, otherwise your usb filters will stop working and you are up a creek. I have to admit, that part really bugs me. We don't watch a ton of new movies, so I feel like I am paying over and over for the same filters. At this time, the membership is $7.99/month or $79.99/year. I would much rather be able to purchase individual filters if I wanted to.
Vidangel is really popular right now. And I have to say, I am getting on the band wagon!
How it works: You get on their website, "buy" the movie you want for $20 and then they give you the filters you choose. It is completely streamed, so no physical dvd (or special dvd player) is needed. When you are finished watching the movie, you "sell back" the movie for $19 (the price decreases every day you don't return it). HD movies cost $2. No Redbox needed, and the prices are comparable. No standing in line! No having to have the original movie in hand!
The Good: Super easy. Just get online, check the SUPER customize-able filters and watch the movie. Easy peasy. Plus, they have tv shows as well! Also, if you choose to, you can keep the movie permanently on their service (for the $20.) Another plus, is that you can use your account from a friend's house, on vacation, wherever you have the internet.
The Bad: The editing is not super smooth in certain situations. If someone swears for instance, the scene sometimes remains intact (and sometimes not), but the sound goes silent. That means that sometimes, you can still read an actor's lips and know exactly what they are saying. With Clearplay, this doesn't happen nearly as much.
The Sell back is a little confusing, because you get Vidangel credits instead of a credit to your credit card. But you CAN cash in your credits any time you want. Also, if you decide to keep a movie, you can't burn it on to a dvd to keep a physical copy. Pesky copyright laws. ;)
The Ugly: Honestly I haven't found anything yet, unless you count the fact that you need either an internet ready tv or an HDMI cord that you can connect from a laptop to the tv. I only have a dumb box tv that doesn't take HDMI cords--so it is only laptop movie watching for me. :( **Edit 10/22/16: Vidangel is currently under legal attack. If they lose their court case and have to go out of business, and you bought a movie that was kept on their website, you might lose access to that movie.**
Here is a quick tour of the process:
Online Movie Sellers
Additionally, you might find illegal companies on the internet that sell edited movies. They usually pop up quickly and then when they are close to being prosecuted, they go out of business, only to pop up again under another business name. They are illegal because they violate copyright and are basically pirated versions of the movie, but I wanted to talk about them in case someone had questions. Also, you don't necessarily know the quality/extent of the editing.
As I mentioned in Edited Movies, Part One, just because a movie CAN be edited, doesn't necessarily mean it is worth watching. I found this out the hard way. Please share with us if you have other tools that you like to use as well!
I LOVE movies. I really do. But unfortunately, the golden age of fabulous movies with Jimmy Stewart, Greer Garson, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire is over. It is becoming harder and harder to find movies with content where I enjoy ALL of it.
Which begs the question: Edited and filtered movies. To see or not to see?
I have one relative I dearly love who scoffs every time I talk about watching an edited movie. Plus, she has a crazy look she gives me, like I've grown an extra head or two and wonders what the big deal is. Her kids are much younger than mine are and she feels very comfortable letting them watch shows I hesitate on. ( I answer her here.)
I have another lovely relative who feels uncomfortable watching an edited movie when the movie does not match her beliefs. "When you rent a movie and filter it, the revenue still goes to that production company, and they are still getting money to make movies that aren't uplifting. You vote with your dollars."
She's got an excellent point.
We choose to watch edited movies, but with a few caveats. My kids would seriously be out of the social scene if they didn't watch any of the latest superhero movies. But I feel much more comfortable when they watch edited versions of the movie. While I don't want my kids to be overly sheltered, I also don't want them to be desensitized to violence, sex and profanity. That is why I love edited movies. I think it straddles living in the real world and also being careful with what you put in your mind.
But an edited movie is not a free pass to watch anything and everything.
Just because something is edited does not automatically make it worth watching. What is the underlying message? Are we better because we watched it? Even if we are watching it just for fun, does it undermine the values we are trying to live by and teach our family?
Once I wanted to watch a movie that was getting a lot of buzz. It was up for an Academy Award, and everyone was saying how much they LOVED it. I was told there was some sexual content, so I got an edited version to try it out.
It was awful. The entire movie was all about the sexual exploits of the main character. Much of the conversation focused on sex. Yes, the sex scene was taken out and there was no swearing, but for me, the content was completely inappropriate.
I use edited movies like they do in school. Did any of you watch edited versions of "Glory" in 8th grade history like I did, or "Schindler's List" in high school as some of my friends did? "Glory" is a great movie that teaches wonderful lessons and touches your soul, but with gratuitous violence in a few places. The editing takes out the gratuitous parts and you are left with a great movie. I also like it for fun movies like "The Princess Bride", where I just don't want to hear the occasional swearing. (Not trying to be a prude, I just really don't like it.)
When the content is mature, or a character makes a bad choice in a movie, our family routinely pauses the movie and talks about the consequences of the choice, or we make sure that the subject matter is understood in a non-scary, non-shaming or threatening way. But we always make sure that the underlying message is discussed and that it supports principles our family values.
What I want to stress in this post, is that movies can be a teaching tool (for good or bad), as well as entertainment. And if something is edited, that still does not mean that it is necessarily appropriate. When we take every occasion, even a fun family movie night, to teach our kids and be deliberate with what we consume, there will be a difference in the character of our children.
In my next post, I will share the tools I use when picking out quality movies as well the filtering services I use for my family.
Oh, and if you haven't signed up for our free family friendly movie list yet, you can access it here. It will give you a movie for every week of the year, plus some sick days! ;)
Community Question: I still don't know what to do about supporting Hollywood's editing-needed-movies with my dollars, and it bothers me. I do try to attend the movie theater and pay full price when an especially morally excellent movie comes out, but other than that, I am stuck. Got any good ideas?
Tim Ballard and his team are hard core, bona fide heros: they rescue children from slave labor and sex slavery. They call themselves abolitionists and their organization is called Operation Underground Railroad. I am in awe of what they have done.
I love the first video below. It details how Tim got started in this great endeavor. I love it's message that when we act in faith, we get answers and doors open--but only after we act. I love the big heart that this man has, and that his background uniquely prepared him to do such amazing things. I love that when we listen to God, we are able to reach our potential and have an impact that we never dreamed of. I also love his discussion of fear and how it keeps us from accomplishing great things. The second video is great too, but it is more of an offical explanation of what they do.
His team has accomplished amazing things. But the first step was Tim being brave enough to listen to that voice inside him. I think that is how heros start.
You can learn more about Tim and his team at www.ourrescue.org. You can learn how to help and support Tim and his team by coming here.
*These videos are centered around a tough topic. If you want to share these with your family, I would make sure you view them first, and then have a very open family discussion. We don't want kids feeling scared and worried.*
We love Lord of the Rings in my family. Yes, I know it is terribly violent. And the orcs and Gollum are physically painful for me to look at--so much so, that I don't watch the movie often. Too much hate and ugliness are in them. But . . . the story is full of courage and loyalty and teaches so many fabulous lessons, that I can't help but love it. It shows people doing hard things (impossible things!) and succeeding out of sheer grit. The lessons are innumerable, but here are just a few of the more obvious ones:
We have family discussions about all of this, plus much, much more. This movie is on the outside fringes of what I feel is ok for my family to watch--it's only because of the amazing lessons that I can overlook the violence in it. But there are many things we choose not to watch or read.
Some of you will disagree with my decision to let my children watch this movie, and others will approve wholeheartedly. In the conversation of what is appropriate for our children, and whether we are exposing them to too much or sheltering them too much, the answer will be different for every family.
I have one relative I love dearly who disagrees with me every time this issue comes up. She scoffs every time I talk about not wanting my kids to read a certain book or watch a certain movie. Or sometimes I will want to watch it, but will want it edited and she rolls her eyes.
"Your kids have to live in the real world. They're going to hear swear words and all sorts of other things at school, at restaurants...anywhere. Plus, the violence isn't really that big of deal. I let my kids watch stuff like that all the time and they aren't going around beating people up and killing them. What's the problem?" Now to be fair, this relative is a great mom and has awesome kids. We just disagree.
I personally love edited movies because we can watch popular movies and join the resulting conversations in society. We can see the good parts without feeling like we've been spiritually and emotionally assaulted.
But she has a point. I don't want my kids to gasp and be shocked every time someone around them swears. I want them to be able to lovingly interact with a variety of people with a variety of lifestyles and beliefs without feeling the need to level judgement on the person.
But I also feel the need to very clearly delineate for my children what is right and what is wrong. Black and white. There are grey areas in life sometimes, sure. But when everything becomes grey, there is no light. The movies we watch, the books we read--those characters become our friends. Just ask kids who like Harry Potter or Captain America and watch them get excited. Look at who they choose to dress up as for Halloween. These people, fictional or not, affect us for better or worse.
I ask my children to choose their friends wisely. So why would I consciously give them friends through entertainment who have premarital sex or commit adultery, live a party lifestyle and use unhealthy substances, swear and/or profane, and commit senseless violent acts--even if our kids are older?
It doesn't make sense to me. We become what and who we surround ourselves with.
Now, back to Lord of the Rings. When the conversation of sheltering came up in a facebook group that I belong to, I loved this response by Britt, a woman I have never met. This has shaped a lot of my thoughts about sheltering (or not).
"I believe strongly in the Shire. Raise your children in the Shire, a beautiful, abundant, natural environment, definitely protected . . . .Then, when they are asked to do hard things, they have that beauty to remember and inspire them. They KNOW there is good in the world worth fighting for because they were raised IN that good."
I love that! When you can see the difference clearly, you know what action to take. Frodo and Sam were inspired by the Shire. It gave them hope, it kept them going. What if they had grown up in a more grey area? Would they have noticed the gathering darkness? Would they say "that's just the way things are," not giving another thought? Could they have changed the world in that kind of environment?
Somehow, I don't think so. I think the contrast is important. That is why I try to create our own family Shire. I want to create a safe place, filled with light and love, where we keep darkness and evil at bay. Then when my children are grown, I hope that they will each create their own shires, and when they need to, travel outside to defend and fight for all that is good and right. Everyone's Shire will look different and different things will be allowed, but when we are mindful of what we choose to bring into our homes, I believe with all my heart that we change the world.
I just hope we never grow Hobbit feet. ;)
Community Question: How do YOU decide what to let in your home? Do you agree or disagree with the Shire mentality?
Fathers are irreplaceable. And sometimes they don't get the kudos and appreciation they deserve. We love this darling video featuring two of the cutest little kids you have ever seen. Fathers who are gentle, strong, sacrificing, supportive, and constant remind us of our Eternal "Really Dad" who cares for us all.
We hope you had a Happy Father's Day!
Today we want to pay tribute to all of those men in our lives. They are irreplaceable. Fathers who are gentle, strong, sacrificing, supportive, and constant remind us of our Eternal "Really Dad" who cares for us all.
Have a Happy Father's Day!
I get excited when my kids are officially finished with school for the year. I love having more time for fun stuff, not being rushed, not having to be on a schedule, and love having fewer responsibilities. That lasts for about a week. . . and then this starts (cue whiny voices):
"Why can't I play video games more? My friends all do."
"He's hitting me!"
"No, I didn't! You hit me first!" (Which actually means that yes, he did hit his brother. . .)
But there is a solution! And it is cheaper and easier than you think. This idea originated with Saren Eyre Loosli over at Power of Moms and has been pinned over a million times. Yes, a million--it is that great. The best part is that you can use it summer after summer to create memorable experiences and better relationships.
I hate it when kids waste time. They are welcome to have fun, explore, play, learn new things, etc. But I want their time to be spent meaningfully, not wasted. Additionally, studies show that kids can lose months of what they learned the previous year over the summer!
Enter this Do-It-Yourself Summer Camp kit.
This mom and kid friendly kit does a great job of combining Mom's "must do" list (chores, learning something new, outdoor activities, ect.) with kids' "must do" lists (friends, fun, adventures, etc.) and creates a laid back, yet semi-structured summer full of fun, meaningful experiences and bonding. You can read the official explanation of it here.
And if you want to level up, I love this podcast here, that explains how an intentional father took this framework and added his own twist to it. I have to admit, this was super inspiring to me and I loved it. It was right up my alley.
I hope you'll give it a try. You've got nothing to lose . . . except the whining!
Community Question: What hints and tips do you have for getting through summer?
You know that feeling of being hurt? That kicked in the stomach, gut-wrenching feeling that comes when we have been wronged? I do. And I am sure you do. To be human is to be hurt by someone, maybe even someone very close to us. It means that someday and somehow we will all be betrayed, thrown under the bus, used, disregarded. To be human is to experience these things to a degree. To be human is to do these things to a degree . . .
But being human isn't all about being on the receiving end of the pain or making hurtful decisions. Being human also gives us a singular opportunity which differentiates homo sapiens from the rest of the animal kingdom--the opportunity to forgive. This ability we have to overcome our behaviorally conditioned stimulus, to drop the unjust burdens that others may have strapped to our backs is miraculous. It is a miracle that will help preserve our own individual hope, and our relationships with others. And our future as a species, as a society is tied up in each other, and in our choice to forgive.
Enter The Forgiveness Project. This inspiring website is a collection of true stories of strong people who have suffered in one form or another and worked through the forgiveness process. Here is an introduction to the website from the remarkable Desmond Tutu:
Eva Kor was a Polish ten year old when she and her twin were taken from their family and subjected to medical experimentation at the hands of Nazi Dr. Mengele in Auschwitz. Her words, highlighted on this The Forgiveness Project here are so powerful to me:
"I believe with every fiber of my being that every human being has the right to live without the pain of the past. For most people there is a big obstacle to forgiveness because society expects revenge.
Forgiveness is really nothing more than an act of self-healing and self-empowerment. I call it a miracle medicine. It is free, it works and has no side effects."
One of my favorite stories of forgiveness comes from the life of Victoria Ruvolo, a woman whose life was changed by a senseless teen prank involving a stolen frozen turkey, a freeway overpass and her car windshield. Read her story here.
If you have ever been hurt, you may want to peruse the raw and redeeming true stories of people featured here. It may speak to you the way that it did to me. I went away from this website committing in my heart that I would choose forgiveness. In the petty, and even in the pernicious acts against us, will we choose forgiveness? Let's. Let's try. Forgiving ourselves, forgiving others as we are courageously able, will only raise the good in our own lives and in our world.
Community Question: Do you have a favorite story of forgiveness? Or your own story of forgiveness?
Have you ever cried over math homework? Helped a child who was crying over math homework? Ugh, it's awful. Sadly, I've done both. Story problems made me tear up every time. And trigonometry, well--I may as well have been six feet under in that class. Seriously. Maybe eight feet under. My whole life, I've only ever cheated on a test once, and it was on a math test (shh!). So how can we help those who aren't naturally drawn to math?
Enter Life of Fred by Stanley F. Schmidt. Fred is a two dimensional, five year old math genius/college professor who stars in a series of chapter books all about math. Kind of crazy, right? Crazy awesome. As in my-son-took-these-books-to-bed-at-night-with-him kind of crazy awesome.
This series is great if you:
-want to lighten attitudes about math
-want to help kids "get" a concept they are struggling with at school
-want to supplement your child's math class at home after school or keep up skills during the summer.
-want to teach how math works everyday around us
-if you homeschool and are looking at different options
-want a non-threatening, easy way to get kids to enjoy math
These books are written in short chapter story form, where Fred uses math in his every day life. Each chapter teaches a concept and then there are some practice problems at the end for you to solve. The books in the series at in alphabetical order, so the pre-k book is named "Apples", the next is "Butterflies" and the series extends all the way to Calculus.
This series may be best introduced to younger kids. My older ones thought they were a bit cheesy, but you know what, if it works, who cares?! A math book that isn't dry and makes people cry is a total win in my book.
These books aren't super cheap, and they can be hard to find unless you know where to look. I've found that the best place is Rainbow Resource, but you can also find them used on Amazon, eBay and other places. If you decide to try them, good luck! Let me know if your kids take them to bed, too!
"Let her be a child".
I love this phrase and have adopted it as a mothering mantra. This phrase has encouraged me to remember that children get grumpy when tired, love extra snuggles and giggles, and make lots of messes. It comes with being a child. Letting my four year old daughter be a child means a lot of things to me, but recently I pondered on how I can keep her safe and aware, and yet not burst the bright bubble of innocence.Childhood innocence is such a precious and fragile gift, especially in our fast-paced, digital world that is growing ever less child centered. In some ways, our society seems to prize adult privileges above the safety of children.
Child sex abuse statistics do not paint a reassuring picture, but stay with me, this is a safe and happy post in the end. In fact, I am not even going to get into the statistics--they can be found with a simple Google search. But what I am going to get into is resources that teach and protect children, while still honoring their innocent and tender hearts. Teaching my daughter, in child friendly ways, is the best way I can think of to safeguard herself, keep her childhood, and "let her be a child".
After scouring Amazon and reviews, I bought all three of these for around $30. I am clustering these three together, because I think that they work best when used together. To me, each adds a clarifying piece to the safety puzzle, a comprehensive trinity. I love the cartoon look of the books. They take a very scary subject to adults, and makes it approachable for kids. My daughter loves me to read these books to her because they don't feel scary or intimidating, but empowering and exciting. Pattie Fitzgerald wrote "Super Duper Safety School" and "NO Trespassing--This Is My Body!", while Jennifer Moore-Mallinos wrote "Do You Have a Secret?"
If you were to buy only one of these three books, I would start with this book. It covers so many safety concerns in clear and relevant ways. Among the subjects introduced to kids are what safe and unsafe means, and 9 different safety rules, such as #1 "I am the BOSS of my body", and #9 "I will always tell my parents if I get an 'UH-OH' feeling", #4 "Ask First, and get permission from parents before you go anywhere with anyone", and #3 "Safe Grown-Ups DON'T ask kids for help, especially when you are by yourself". What I most appreciated was the concept of "tricky people". The author tells kids to pay attention to what people say and what they want kids to do. Tricky people aren't recognizable by how they look--they may look nice and smile. Essentially, the author defines tricky people as being someone who wants kids to break safety rules. If they are tricky, get away fast and tell Mom and Dad. At the end of the book, there is very helpful Parent's Guide, and a bookmark with the safety rules on it.
This book details safety rule #1 of the Super Duper Safety Club, "I am the Boss of my own body." My favorite part of this book is how it instructs kids that their own comfortability with how people interact with them and their bodies is more important than politeness. If children are encouraged to be polite instead of saying they don't want certain hugs, or other innocuous touching, they are not likely to advocate for themselves in dangerous touching situations. A short Parent's Guide is included in the back of the book, as is a few blank pages for children's coloring and notes. This book briefly mentions not keeping secrets, so I bought the next book because I wanted to talk about it more in depth with my daughter.
Some take the approach that there are no good secrets, but I personally feel like that can be a bit confusing and shameful for kids. I love this book because it helped me be able to talk to my daughter about good secrets and bad secrets. Sometimes there are secrets that can't be classified as "surprises", like a secret handshake with a friend, or a secret hiding place for hide and seek. Good secrets are those which make you and other people happy. Bad secrets can make us worry, or feel bad inside. And the author reassures that if a child has a bad secret, that telling a safe grown up will help them feel better.
Let Them Be Children By Protecting Their Childhood.
Though it may seem paradoxical, the best way to protect our children's innocent smiles, bright eyes, and carefree attitudes, is by teaching them about unsafe and safe behaviors and situations, and encouraging them to speak up if they feel uncomfortable. Keeping them safe doesn't mean that they, or us, need be perpetually worried and scared. In fact, I have found that it has done the opposite for me and my daughter. Putting safety dialogue at the forefront of our home has brought more peace of mind than I thought possible. So along with smiling at sticky popsicle fingers and impromptu dance parties that seem to be hallmarks of being a child, I also try to let her be a child by safeguarding her body and innocence.
Are there other resources you have come across that safeguard childhood? How do you "let them be children"?
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