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Preserving Family Values in a Media Driven Society

Independent Review of the TVGuardian
from MSTAR Communications
Used by permission (Copyright 2000, Millennial Star Network - may *not* be re-posted publicly or reprinted in any other form without explicit permission.)

More TVGuardian Info
"The Profanity Filter"

Parents...and others concerned about questions of morality and profanity often struggle with television viewing and other media issues. A website called "Family Safe Media" provides some excellent resources to assist parents and individuals concerned about the impacts of television. It's clear that television can be a great tool for entertainment and education, but can also provide negative influences if not used correctly. The services of Family Safe Media help assure that television is used properly.

MSTAR reviewers had the chance to review two products offered by Family Safe Media, and we are pleased to recommend them to our readers.

The "TV Guardian" product is designed to automatically detect and filter out inappropriate language from television programs and videos. It performs its filtering based on the "closed caption" material included in most programming (some older programs may not work), searching for over 100 words and phrases in an internal directory. If an offensive word is encountered, the audio is muted. If the close-captioning is being viewed, it will be replaced by a profanity-free substitute.

MSTAR employee Joshua Elledge and his family tested the TV Guardian for a weekend and reported: The setup was incredibly easy - we were up and running within 5 minutes of opening the box. It plugged directly between the TV and VCR. Even with a semi-complicated home theater system - it was very easy to integrate.

I have to admit, I had heard of this system before and was somewhat skeptical. We started off watching a regular prime-time action television program and had quickly gained an appreciation for what television could be like. It seemed to catch about everything that the average person could be offended by. There were two levels of filtering - one that includes uses of Deity - that you would not want to filter while watching religious programming - but would definitely need during this action-drama that we watched.

Another filtering option allowed the captioning to be displayed - along with substitutions for the offensive words. While we found some substitutions to be a bit comical in certain situations - it was generally very accurate.

Next, we thought we would really test it out and view an action movie that we had long been wanting to see - but opted out - due to the amount of swearing that the film contained. I have to say that not one offensive word slipped past! Honestly, I was amazed. Sometimes, in a heated moment, when the director really wanted the villain to appear offensive, the audio would stay quiet for several seconds at a time - but it was MUCH better than having to hear the unnecessary dialogue!

Both my wife and I give the TV Guardian huge "thumbs-up." It seems embarrassing to watch television as a family anymore with the amount of harsh language abound in even the "family-friendliest" of programs - it's good to know that we have an added level of protection for our home. You can check out the TV Guardian at

Another product offered by Family Safe Media is called "TV Allowance," a "television time manager" which can be used to control the amount of time spent viewing television or playing video games. Parents can use the device to set weekly allocations for each family member, helping reduce the negative influence of too much television viewing and also teaching the child to make choices and set priorities.

This clever device attaches between the electric plug of our television and the power source, with the TV plug locked inside the device. You can then program the unit with up to four different "codes" which can each be set up with time allocations. A parent uses a master code to define how much time is alloted to each account; the child then knows that he has only the given amount of time available that week to view television under his personal code.

We found this device a little complicated at first to program, but quickly got used to it and were pleased with the functions. The parent (or the child) can check to see the remaining time in each account. Parents have a master code to assure they can watch when desired. There is even a "block" feature which would prevent TV viewing, regardless of the amounts in an account, during specified time periods (for example, homework time or late nights).

The other services of Family Safe Media include home video editing tools (allow you to remove offensive parts from your own copies of videos), Internet filtering services, and more. It's a website worth a visit for any parent or individual interested in aid for maintaining safe media practices! Now is an especially good time to visit the site -( the  TV Guardian is now on sale).

See or call 1-800-828-4514.

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