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10/10/2014 03:25 pm ET Updated Dec 10, 2014

5 Tips to Make Family Movie Night a Success

Dean Mitchell via Getty Images

By Sierra Filucci, Executive Editor at Common Sense Media

We say this a lot, but we think it's worth repeating: It's important to get involved in your kids' media lives -- and your kids will love it too (within reason!). But helping them become critical media consumers can be easier said than done. What's a surefire way to stay involved with your kids' media picks and create an opportunity to discuss them? Host a family movie night!

Some tips for making it work:

Schedule it. Make it a regular date and time and don't break it. Turn off cell phones and ban multitasking during the show.

Take turns choosing the movie. If you've got little kids, pre-select a group to choose from (to avoid watching Care Bears IV over and over again). If you've got teens, tell them you'll watch anything they choose as long as they return the favor when it's your turn. Enforce a "no complaining" rule.

Location, location, location. Hang a sheet in the backyard, rent a projector and sit on beach chairs to celebrate a classic like The Wizard of Oz. Or take family movie night on the road during vacations or at the grandparents' house (Singin' in the Rain, perhaps?).

Make it a theme night. This can be simple or elaborate. Eat popsicles with March of the Penguins or make food art with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Dress in costumefor A Princess Bride, or learn a few magic tricks before Harry Potter.

Talk about it. When credits roll or the next day, make time to chat about what you watched. Kids might be interested in learning more about animation or Hollywood history. Visit the library to follow up on interests piqued by the movie. Talking with kids about how movie characters handled fictional situations can be a subtle way to reinforce your family's values or get kids to open up about their lives.
Check out Common Sense Media's movie reviews for conversation starters in the "Families can talk about" section. And here's a list of great family movie picks.

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About Common Sense Media:
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to:www.commonsense.org.