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Animated Movies Aren’t Just for Kids Anymore

Media Discernment

Animated features have become beautiful, mature, almost literary works, which is creating new challenges for parents trying to gauge their age-appropriateness.

Are There Cows in Your Living Room?

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Most modern idols aren't fashioned from gold or carved in stone. So what would Moses say about a culture that practically worships entertainment?

Are Your Teens Financing the Darkness?

Media Discernment

Teenagers in one youth group had no problem investing in raunchy rap music. That is until they realized where their money was really going.

Avatar's Spiritual Roots

Counsel & Commentary, Media Discernment

James Cameron's blockbuster sci-fi epic has been called an "apologia for pantheism." What should families know about Eywa and the Tree of Souls?

AXE, TAG Pander to Rutting Instincts

Media Discernment, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

Sexy advertising images are nothing new. But provocative campaigns for body spray are playing dirty by objectifying women and cheapening God’s gift of sexuality.

Band of Brothers

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Catch Nick, Joe and Kevin live! Tag along with a dad/daughter duo as they experience a Jonas Brothers concert and come face-to-face (briefly) with the boys in the band.

Based on a True Story?

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

It's not uncommon for Hollywood biopics to rewrite history. Learn about several blockbusters that have drawn fire for playing a little too fast and loose with the facts.

Cast Your Vote for the Good Stuff

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

From the movies we attend to the gifts we buy, our media spending sends a powerful message to the creators of entertainment: "Give us more of the same!"

A Chat With Rebecca Hagelin

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues, Conversations, Counsel & Commentary

A columnist/author’s helpful advice for parents struggling to protect their children against "cultural terrorism" as they set boundaries in an out-of-control, relativistic society.

A Chat With Tim Conway

Media Discernment, Conversations, Counsel & Commentary

From roles on McHale’s Navy and The Carol Burnett Show to his role with the Parents Television Council, this funnyman has plenty of opinions about TV.

Chatters Get More Than They Log On For

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

Learn why, despite websites’ best attempts to protect children in chat rooms, online dialogues can rob children's innocence and introduce them to predators.

Confessions of a School Shooter

Conversations, Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues

On Nov. 15, 1995, a Tennesse high schooler opened fire on his teachers and classmates. We talk with Jamie Rouse about media choices that fueled his rage that fateful day.

A Consultation with Dr. Ben Carson

Conversations, Youth Trends & Issues, Media Discernment

Convinced your child has ADD? Not so fast. A respected neurosurgeon discusses the impact of TV and video games on the minds and attention spans of young children.

A Conversation With Brent Bozell

Media Discernment, Conversations, Counsel & Commentary

The founder of the Parents Television Council talks about a la carte cable, TV’s evolution in the Internet age, and how families can hold the industry accountable.

Crucifying a Lustful Thought Life

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

Back on track with a renewed passion for purity, Dove Award-winning artist Clay Crosse explains how sensual entertainment shaped him at a young age.

Defenders of Truth Always Look a Little Different

Counsel & Commentary, Media Discernment

From comic books to the big screen, defenders of truth have always looked a little different. So why are old-school superheroes still so popular in our postmodern age?

The Divisive World of Pop Music

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary, Youth Trends & Issues

Understanding children’s ties to their favorite music can help parents build bridges rather than walls, leading to better communication and stronger families.

Does Life Ever Imitate (Dangerous) Art?

Media Discernment

Sure, entertainment can impact our moods and emotions at times, but it's a stretch to accuse it of inspiring violent, antisocial behavior … isn't it?

Does Your School Have a Video Policy?

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues

If so, what are educators doing to protect students from indecent exposure? If not, here's what you can do to get the conversation started.

Even When We Know Better

Media Discernment

The awful song with a good beat. That violent game you can't turn off. One media expert examines the magnetic pull of guilty pleasures … including his own.

Faith and Film Converge at Sundance

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Among the film buffs flocking to Park City, Utah, are Christians hoping to build a bridge between independent cinema and the greatest story ever told.

A Family Covenant for God-Honoring Media Choices

Media Discernment

The strongest promises get put in writing. Help your family commit to a godly entertainment standard with the help of a tool offering built-in accountability.

From the Director's Chair

Media Discernment

Plugged In director Bob Waliszewski reflects on the first 20 years of Focus on the Family's entertainment-review ministry—and links you to an online flipbook full of memories!

Getting Family Discussions Started

Media Discernment

A passion for media discernment is great, but how can parents avoid common mistakes and communicate with their children in a way that builds a relationship?

God’s Own Words on Discernment

Media Discernment

Although the Bible was written centuries before MTV, DVD and PS3, it has a lot to say about guarding our hearts and minds against destructive influences.

Hollywood in Da Vinci Mode

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

You’ve heard about the controversy. Now find out how Dan Brown’s best-selling novel—and the box-office hit it inspired—are changing how people think of the Savior.

The Holy Growl

Youth Trends & Issues, Media Discernment

Christian metal continues to gain new fans, though its aggressive, grinding musical style and gutteral vocals often put parents and teens at odds. How should families respond?

Horror Trend Absolute Torture

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

After growing up with slasher films, cynical audiences desensitized to gory violence have discovered a new cinematic obsession that’s just plain scary.

How Can You Wade Through So Much Garbage?

Media Discernment

Plugged In's full-time entertainment reviewers get that question a lot, which probably comes as no surprise. What may surprise you is how one of them answered it.

I Was a Media Prodigal

Media Discernment

It can take some people years to appreciate the impact of entertainment on the human heart. Here's how one young rebel saw the light … and embraced a cause.

The Inconvenient Truth About Documentaries

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

By definition, a documentary should be fair, reasonable, dispassionate. Learn how filmmakers’ biases and hidden agendas can twist facts and mislead viewers.

Inside the "Dear Slim" Saga

Conversations, Media Discernment

Don't tell KJ-52 that he sounds like Eminem. He knows. But what used to be a sore subject has enhanced the Christian rapper's ability to reach fans with a positive alternative.

Interacting With Hollywood

Media Discernment, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

Thanks to fansites and blogs, buzz-hungry studios can anticipate audience reaction and make changes while a movie is still in production. But should fans be getting the final cut?

Is Average the New Ugly?

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

Learn how entertainment is shaping how young people perceive their value and attractiveness, as well as how parents can counter messages from our image-obsessed culture.

Is the MPAA Just Blowing Smoke?

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

The people who rate movies say they’ll be taking tobacco use more seriously. So why are they so soft on the rising levels of cinematic violence?

Is Your Teen Keeping Strange Company?

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

Young Christians may not realize it, but who they hang out with speaks volumes about their values. That includes the companions they choose in the form of entertainment.

It's Not "Just" Entertainment

Media Discernment, Conversations

Since 1990, Focus on the Family's Plugged In team has helped millions of families choose media wisely. Senior Editor Bob Smithouser explains why.

John Lee Hancock Scores Again

Conversations, Media Discernment

Want to film a heartwarming sports biopic? Call the writer/director who talked with us about his hits The Rookie and The Blind Side, which managed to impress audiences and critics.

Lights, Camera, Faith in Action!

Media Discernment, Conversations

Meet filmmaker Alex Kendrick (Fireproof, Facing the Giants), the Georgia media minister who, along with his brother Stephen, is following God’s call to make movies that matter.

Like Father, Like Son

Conversations, Counsel & Commentary, Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues

We sit down with apologetics experts Josh and Sean McDowell to discuss parenting, the power of media and a particular movie that changed their relationship.

Little Squeaks Can Mean Big Problems

Media Discernment

Just as strange noises under the hood tell us it's time to get the car checked, our kids can produce media-related "squeaks" that demand our attention.

Mandy Moore's Role to Remember

Conversations, Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues

Fresh off her hit A Walk to Remember, the pop singer/actress talks about her virginal character and a song on her self-titled album that sends a very different message.

Mass-Producing the 10-Year-Old Teenager

Youth Trends & Issues, Media Discernment

With billions of dollars burning a hole in tweens' pockets, companies are eager to help them spend it. And some experts believe that's forcing our kids to grow up too fast.

The Most Reliable Filtering Device Is Still a Parent

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary, Modern Technology

With video games evolving and migrating online, it’s even more critical that moms and dads keep track of what the kids are playing … and where.

Opportunity in the Eye of the Storm

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Trying to change bad media habits? While it’s preferable to train a child in the way he should go, a new window of opportunity could arrive in the midst of present conflict.

PI20 Reflections: Movies

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

VHS or Betamax? This third installment in our 20th anniversary series examines technological advances that have revolutionized how we've brought cinema home.

PI20 Reflections: Social Media

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Our final 20th anniversary feature (part 5 of 5) recalls a time before e-mail, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. How have we and our "friends" changed over the past two decades?

PI20 Reflections: Video Games

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

From joysticks to Wii controllers, this fourth of five 20th anniversary articles deals exclusively with the games people played during the Plugged In era, some of which we liked!

PI20 Reflections: Music

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Part two of our five-part 20th anniversary series considers sonic trends that have come and gone since 1990 … as well as truths about teens and music that never change.

PI20 Reflections: Television

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

The first article in our five-part 20th anniversary series looks back at the changing face of prime-time TV during the Plugged In era. Now that's an extreme makeover!

The Politics of Entertainment

Counsel & Commentary, Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues

Late-night monologues and sketch comedy can pique teens’ interest in the political process. So how can parents help their children see that voting is no laughing matter?

Pop Culture’s Mighty Wind

Media Discernment

Have you been shaped by a powerful, invisible force? Discover how a bizarre road trip taught one family a valuable lesson about the need for media discernment.

The Power of the Media

Media Discernment

How much can music really affect the human brain? Based on the traumatic experiences of one skilled neurologist, a lot more than most people think.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues, Counsel & Commentary

The tragic death of actor Heath Ledger raises critical questions about teens’ (not to mention Hollywood’s) casual attitude toward prescription drug abuse.

Raising Savvy, Secure Consumers

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Dissecting commercials during the Super Bowl is one thing. But doing it with children throughout the year will help them develop lifelong skills for processing sales pitches.

Reality TV’s Dirty Little Secrets

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Networks want the audience to think that their unscripted shows are raw, real and unfiltered. Here’s an inside look at how unreal reality TV often is.

Roses Among Thorns

Media Discernment, Conversations, Counsel & Commentary

Mom and former record executive Darlene Brock talks about the media, challenges facing girls today, and what it means to raise daughters with grit and grace.

Setting a Family Standard for Entertainment

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Discover practical ways to help your children become more sensitive to the power of media and embrace biblically based standards for the entertainment they consume.

Simple Enough for a Child to Understand

Media Discernment

How can parents explain the need for biblical media discernment to very young children? One dad’s anxiety can serve as a lesson to us all.

Six Keys to a Healthy Entertainment Diet

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Insights from an Olympic nutritionist can help families bring home the gold as they try to establish reasonable, godly standards for consuming entertainment.

The Sleepover Dilemma

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues

Whether parents are hosting a slumber party or granting permission for an overnight at someone else’s house, this primer will give them confidence to ask important questions.

Sneaking Into the Movies

Media Discernment

How dangerous is it for children to be exposed to R-rated movies? More and more research is finding strong correlations with high-risk behavior.

Some Films Are Unsafe at Any Altitude

Modern Technology, Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

In the air, you're a captive audience. So what's a parent to do when your family has a turbulent encounter due to the airline's lack of media discernment?

Speak No Evil vs. The First Amendment

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

It’s hardly fair, but when it comes to freedom of speech, some public figures pay a steep price for irresponsible comments while musicians get away with murder.

Take Me Out to the Movies

Counsel & Commentary, Media Discernment

See which diamond gems one Plugged In editor recommends to people who can't decide which smells better, movie theater popcorn or a freshly oiled fielder's glove.

Teaching Kids to Kill

Youth Trends & Issues, Media Discernment, Modern Technology

What do a 15-year-old chronic video gamer and a U.S. Marine have in common? More than you might think. Take a look into the mind of a first-person shooter.

Teens Choose to Avoid the Media Mud

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Some of the most encouraging letters we’ve received over the years have come from Christian teenagers challenging the notion that popular culture has all the answers.

That Was Then, This Is Now

Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues

Changes in entertainment have been both subtle and dramatic over the years, as evidenced by the titles of hit songs that test the bounds of decency.

Thrilled to Death

Conversations, Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues, Modern Technology

An army killologist explains how America's lust for violent entertainment is destroying our culture … and our kids. What can we do to keep our children from being desensitized?

TiVo Is Bad for Networks, Good for Families

Media Discernment, Modern Technology

For one giddy media analyst, the chance to better control his television viewing and skip past annoying commercials has him eager to join the TiVolution.

Truth & Reality Compete for Teens' Hearts

Media Discernment

Many people ask, ’What’s the difference?’ But understanding what sets these terms apart is essential if we intend to make God-honoring entertainment choices.

The Truth About Unrated DVDs

Modern Technology, Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues

Discover why re-edited, repackaged PG-13 movies deserve an R rating, but aren't getting one. We expose yet another cheat in Hollywood's ratings game.

20 Great Country Songs for Your Pro-Family Playlist

Media Discernment

In this era of digital downloads, country music fans can feast their ears on a hearty helping of home-grown values served à la carte.

Welcome to Music 101

Media Discernment

Our resident music expert shares tricks of the trade, teaching parents how to gather information for themselves about the tracks and albums aimed at their children.

What Hath Broadband Wrought?

Media Discernment, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

Increased bandwidth means more video content streaming onto our computers. What new challenges is this technological boon creating for parents?

What We Thought Then, What We Know Now

Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary, Media Discernment

In 1971, LIFE magazine looked back at television’s first 25 years. What did its writers say, and how do those reflections and predictions look 40 years later?

When Is “Out of Bounds” Really Out of Bounds?

Media Discernment

A glimpse at a children's soccer game offers valuable insight into a child's need for clearly defined boundaries … and a parent's need to enforce them.

When Kids Stray Out of Bounds

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Our children can frustrate us by crossing a line and paying a price. (But at least you’ve never gotten an unexpected wake-up call from the Ukranian coast guard.)

When Other Families Lack Discernment

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Even if you and your children choose media wisely, friends and neighbors may not be as careful. What should we do when the lax standards of others hit home?

When Tolerance Turns to Compromise

Media Discernment

The ability to lovingly disagree with others is vital, though teens eager to defend inappropriate entertainment (and those who create it) can turn the virtue of 'tolerance' into a liability.

When You Can’t Tune It Out, Try Teaching

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Somewhere between the pepperoni and mushrooms, one family’s visit to a local pizza parlor turns into an impromptu lesson about lousy lyrics.

Which Nature Are You Feeding?

Media Discernment

A tale of two baby iguanas offers valuable insight into the way human beings are wired, and how our entertainment diet can shape us for better or worse.

Who Does Your Teen Wannabe?

Conversations, Counsel & Commentary, Media Discernment, Youth Trends & Issues

This generation faces an identity crisis. Discover how Royal Tailor's music—and lead singer—square off against a culture that wants our kids to settle for less than God's best.

Who Rates the Movies ... and How?

Media Discernment, Counsel & Commentary

Much like learning what’s in a hot dog, this brief history of Hollywood’s rating system will inspire parents to think twice before trusting their children to the MPAA.

Why Television Will Never Be the Same

Media Discernment, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

Heralded as a socially responsible development sure to assist and inform families, the V-Chip was high-tech Trojan Horse destined to coarsen TV. Here’s why…

Wise Parents Check Out the Ride

Media Discernment

We want our kids to enjoy themselves to the fullest, but without jeopardizing their physical, emotional or spiritual health. Is that quandry familiar?

World of Warcraft: One Family’s Battle

Media Discernment, Modern Technology, Counsel & Commentary

A concerned mother recalls how her son’s video game habits paved the way for a life-altering addiction to the multiplayer online challenge World of Warcraft.

Yellow Road Signs Are Just the Beginning

Media Discernment

Media discernment is more than just avoiding danger zones. Discover the other side of teaching children to make wise entertainment choices.

You Must Be This Tall to Ride

Media Discernment

Discover how a trip to Walt Disney World reminded one father to make sure that what looks like fun to the kiddos is also a wise choice.