Plugged In is a Focus on the Family publication designed to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving families the essential tools they need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which they live. Through our reviews, articles and discussions, we hope to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."
Each month, Plugged In is visited more than 1 million times by people looking for detailed information about what's really in popular movies, videos, television episodes, songs and games. Entertainment industry ratings only tell you so much. We go deeper, diving into specific content and the meaning behind it. Our award-winning website also offers news, polls, blogs and Movie Nights discussion guides.
Phones and Facebook
Plugged In mobile apps (for iPhones and Androids) offer instant, on-the-go access to our movie reviews, game reviews, music reviews and TV reviews. On those apps, and on our site, you'll find that some of our written reviews are accompanied by audio and/or video reviews. If you're as interested in sharing your own opinion as in hearing ours, check out the PI Blog, our Facebook page or our Twitter feed. By subscribing to our weekly eNewsletter, you'll get quick access to brand-new articles, reviews and Culture Clips.
Radio And TV
The Plugged In team creates two weekly radio features called the Plugged In Movie Review (or PIMR for short). Produced in 1-minute and 2-minute versions, one tackles a movie that's new in theaters, the other focuses on a newly released video. Approximately 9 million people weekly hear at least one of these as they tune in to (primarily) Christian radio stations. Not only do more than 700 stations currently carry this feature in the U.S., stations in about a dozen other countries do so as well (from Ireland to Iceland). A television version of the feature is currently viewed by close to 2 million people each week, carried by such outlets as GMC, Sky Angel, GCN, GEB and the Soundtrack Channel Network. While highlighting a film's plot, content and themes, these radio and TV snapshots help get the message across that it really does matter what we watch.
You love good movies. We love good movies. The best ones entertain us and challenge us to think more deeply about important issues. They can even spark dynamic dialogue … especially once we consider God's perspective. That's why we create easy-to-use conversation tools called Movie Nights, which guide you and your kids, your small group or your youth group into meaningful discussion as you enjoy some of Hollywood's better efforts. It's a fun way to think (in a new way) through age-appropriate stories and develop biblical discernment.
Called Conectados in Spanish, Plugged In (in conjunction with our associates in Focus on the Family's Costa Rica office) provides translated versions of most of our movie reviews. And a Spanish version of the Plugged In Movie Review is available in some Spanish-language radio markets.
Frequently Asked Questions
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By calling (800) A-FAMILY (232-6459)
By writing Plugged In, Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO 80995
When you email or write a letter, please include your full name and where you live. Emails and letters will be answered by Focus on the Family's correspondence team before being forwarded to the Plugged In editors. By writing to Plugged In, you are granting us permission to reprint your comments (wholly or in part).
Primarily, we base our picks on popularity. The more people a film, TV show, game or song touches in the culture, the more interested we are in reviewing it. We also pay quite a bit of attention to niche products that generate a lot of cultural "buzz." (These releases tend to create a great deal of influence on the direction our culture is headed.) And we closely track what kinds of reviews our readers are most interested in—based on traffic patterns and searches made on the site. So if, for instance, our review of a Disney Channel show is read by a lot of people, we give more attention to other Disney series. Additionally, we strongly factor in the e-mails and letters you send to us.
Plugged In looks at films through a biblical worldview filter, keeping families— especially those with children in the home—ultimately in mind. Realizing the MPAA's ratings system is greatly lacking (and often untrustworthy), we strive to be reliable "information providers," highlighting both the positive and negative content elements, a requisite for discerning individuals regarding the making of wise entertainment choices. While providing a numerical rating for each movie and varying colors of caution for broad age ranges in an effort to help categorize where a film generally stands within the cultural context, we refrain from telling people to view or not view a specific film. Instead we outline content in categories such as "sexual," "drug and alcohol," "violence," "crude or profane language," "spiritual," etc., then provide summation and perspective for that content, equipping families (and individuals) with information they can draw upon to assist in making media decisions.
According to a poll of Plugged In readers, 70% watch R-rated movies. Additionally, since many R films target teens (especially raunchy comedies and horror flicks), our reviews help families navigate this prominent area of the culture. By reading our reviews, parents gain a clearer understanding of what Hollywood is aiming at their kids, and what their children's peers are consuming. Also, by having a content breakdown of R movies, parents can articulate why a particular film fails to meet the family standard. Beyond observing a "label," this reinforces moral boundaries for adolescents.
A California mom alluded to this benefit when she told us, "Last weekend my son, age 16, saw a very disgusting film at a friend's home. Only after that did I find your website. This created a very meaningful two-hour discussion with him on values and media choices. However, the next weekend he asked to go see another R-rated film. We said 'no.' My son then asked, 'How about if I check it out on that website Mom likes?' My husband, smiling, said, 'Sure!' A few minutes later my son emerged from the office and said, 'You guys wouldn't want me to see it.'"
Yes! To write a comprehensive and meaningful review, this is a must. And that goes for listening to music albums and tracks, playing video games and watching specific episodes of a TV series, too.
No. Because most unrated video versions of films add negative content, we feel that our review of the rated version continues to do the job it was intended to do—help families make discerning choices about the entertainment they consume. There is rarely a good reason for families to intentionally watch a film with more negative content in it than the original release contains.
Not all theatrical releases are made available to us before they hit the cineplex. But even when we do get to screen a movie early, a professional code of ethics called an "embargo" requires that we wait until either the day of or the day before its release to post our review. We realize that not all reviewers abide by this, but it's important to us that Plugged In operate with integrity, both in the way we write our reviews and the way we publish them.
We almost always choose to review the unedited version. The so-called purifying process used on "clean" CDs and downloads is usually nothing more than the bleeping (or overdubbing) of some of the most egregious obscenities. In the case of gangsta rap, the censor might also excise words such as "murder," "drive-by" and "bullets," along with extreme references to drug use. But savvy listeners can easily fill in the blanks. A teen named Alicia wrote us, "Some of my friends have gotten the edited version of Eminem and they think it's OK. But it's not like you don't know what's being cut out."
Focus on the Family's "Family Safety" page is a good place to start.