2003 Common Sense launches to guide parents in search of media that entertains, educates, and inspires.


To call attention to the outsized influence of media and tech on kids' lives and to empower families with the information they need to be advocates for their children.

CEO and founder Jim Steyer starts the conversation about raising kids in the digital age with The Other Parent (2003).
Common Sense is first featured in the New York Times with "A New Attempt to Monitor Media Content" (2003).
Jim Steyer is interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey Show (2006). Watch on YouTube.

2004–2007 A technological boom …

… brings new platforms, increased connectivity, and content that transforms the media landscape — and how our kids spend their time.


of homes have broadband internet by 2007

[ compared to just 3% in 2000 ]

Common Sense has come along at the right time with the right pedigree — the nonprofit organization has emerged as a trusted resource for all sides.

San Francisco Chronicle

2007 Apple releases the first-generation iPhone.

The arrival of the smartphone will influence virtually every aspect of our lives and our kids' upbringing — from social interactions to mental health.

We are conducting the world's greatest experiment on our kids in real time — and we don't know how it's going to turn out.

Liz Perle Founding editor-in-chief, Common Sense

2008 Parents turn to teachers for answers to cyberbullying and other perils.

Common Sense helps bridge the gap between home and school, offering information and tools that empower school communities to address challenges and prepare students for the future.

Digital citizenship adoption in schools

North Carolina


Select a state to see the numbers.

Schools further important conversations about the challenges and opportunities of growing up in a digital world. They are also often where problematic issues surface, and that's why we take a whole-community approach. In our first year, we hoped that maybe 500 member schools would sign up, but in the first year we had 5,000.

Linda Burch Co-founder and chief education and strategy officer, Common Sense

2009 YouTube surpasses 1B views per day, and Facebook overtakes MySpace in popularity.

2010 We're the first to tell tech companies: "Do not track our kids."

Common Sense emerges as an early and leading voice in support of kids' digital well-being.

3 out of 4 parents say social networks aren't protecting kids' online privacy.

Results from our national poll launched a campaign to require a parental opt-in for geolocation.

2011 The first Common Sense research report reveals kids are frequent media users, even from infancy.

The Common Sense research program launches with landmark data that redefines our understanding of screen time.

Time spent on mobile devices is on the rise for kids age 0–8:

5 mins.
15 mins.
48 mins.

2013 Common Sense launches the first-ever ratings system for learning potential …

… so teachers and parents can understand the educational value of the thousands of new apps flooding the market — many of which are aimed at kids.

The number of available apps in the App Store reaches

Raising kids in the digital age: How we're helping kids thrive at home and in school.
Raising kids in the digital age: How we're helping kids thrive at home and in school.

Common Sense Education is a necessity in an ever-changing digital world. The skills that students and families learn through the program will be essential in developing safe 21st-century skills in the future.

Alex Common Sense Education user

2014 Students gain a right to privacy.

First-of-its-kind legislation creates a model for policy reform in states across the country.

Bills and laws in support of kids' privacy.

North Carolina

Similar laws passed since 2014

2014 The number of mobile devices worldwide surpasses the number of people.

2014 Common Sense tackles the digital divide …

… by advocating for all kids — regardless of ZIP code or background — to have equal access to technology and the support they need to build strong digital skills.

2015 Common Sense creates community-grounded resources for Spanish-speaking and Latino families.

Culturally relevant articles and videos are now available to the growing population of Latino families. It is projected that by 2020, one in four kids in the U.S. will be Latino.

Common Sense Latino: Our on-the-ground work in Los Angeles.
Common Sense Latino: Our on-the-ground work in Los Angeles.

2016 As personal devices create barriers and compete for our attention, Common Sense introduces a simple yet powerful idea: device-free dinner.

A campaign for healthier media use, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Device-Free Dinner campaign exceeds



You are the best family and children's advocate for well-being out there. THANK YOU.

Ray Common Sense Media user

2017 Kids spend 9 hours a day with media and tech (and so do their parents) …

… and that's excluding screen time for work, school, or homework.

95% of children under 8 in America have access to a mobile device at home

1 in 3 internet users worldwide are kids and teens

50% of teens feel addicted to their mobile devices

78% of teens check their devices at least hourly

2018 Online or offline? It's all real life these days.

It's much harder to keep up with how kids use technology now that the lines have blurred and moving from real life to digital life is as easy as asking your phone a question.

That's why our work is more vital than ever. Common Sense is the go-to source of information about kids' well-being in the digital age:


families and teachers rely on Common Sense every year to make informed media choices.


ratings and reviews available online and on major cable networks and streaming services worldwide.

All 0 states

have digital citizenship education and advocacy opportunities.

Over 0 billion

views of news stories about our research on tech's effects on kids.

Raising a generation of digital citizens

Technology is often a catalyst for good, but it can have real human costs. Parents, teachers, the media, and even the leaders of the tech companies themselves are expressing growing concerns about the role tech may play in the social and emotional well-being of young people.

We know the pace of change will only accelerate. Over the next 15 years, we will continue to lead the way as an independent voice for kids and families. Here's how Common Sense is redefining how we parent, teach, and advocate for our kids in a digital world:

  • Media
  • Culture & Democracy
  • Digital Citizenship

Media Quality


Empowered families in charge of their digital choices.

Kids growing up today have never known a world without the internet. And in a time of 24/7 connectivity, what captures their attention isn't always what's best for them.

Together with industry experts, health professionals, and researchers, Common Sense is advocating for media and technology that supports kids' well-being. We are raising awareness through public service campaigns for balanced media use, and we're at the forefront of new research and policy work to improve the quality of kids' media — from content guidelines that promote gender equity to age-based recommendations for virtual reality and other emerging technologies — so we're always ready for what comes next.

Culture & Democracy


Technology that puts people before profits.

Our kids' feeds are flooded with bots, fake news, hate speech, and apps designed to grab their digital identities and keep them clicking. We're allowing big corporations to monitor us through our devices, without knowing the true costs to our well-being.

Common Sense is working directly with tech companies and legislators to advocate for media platforms that won't erode our democracy, for products that are designed with their youngest users in mind, and for digital equity programs that help all kids become more informed internet users. Our Privacy Initiative evaluates popular edtech tools to help us all be better stewards of kids' privacy. And on the heels of passing the most comprehensive privacy law in California's history, we are supporting similar bills nationwide that will fund new research into technology's effects on our mental and physical health, our society, and the future.

Digital Citizenship


A future where every kid is a digital learner, leader, and citizen.

Digital citizenship skills are critical to a 21st-century education. And they've never been more essential to our kids' lives and our democratic process.

With the right support, kids can take ownership of their digital lives, engage with real issues, and have the skills and agency to change their communities for the better. Common Sense takes a comprehensive, community-wide approach to teaching digital skills. We're making critical updates to our K–12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum to stay ahead of the latest developments in technology and address real challenges students face today. We're making sure families and teachers are engaged and informed with dynamic new resources for classrooms and at-home learning. And we're advocating for legislation that will bring digital citizenship resources into every school in the nation.

It's all possible because of you. Support our work. Donate now

Thank You to Our Distribution Partners

Thank You to Our Supporters

Over the past 15 years, Common Sense has been fortunate to receive the generous philanthropic support of individual donors and foundations that have made, and continue to make, a significant contribution to the success, sustainability, and impact of Common Sense's work. The list below represents the cumulative giving of our most generous supporters as of December 31, 2017*. *Includes cumulative grants or contributions of $25,000 and above.