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AOL tool helps parents rate content for kids

The company's Family Friendly programming guides will first appear in Moviefone and CityGuide.

America Online on Thursday released a new tool designed to help parents evaluate entertainment for children.

The Family Friendly programming guide will appear initially in AOL's Moviefone and CityGuide services, which provide listings of films, DVDs and events suited to families, the company said Thursday. The option will be extended later to other channels such as AOL Music, Games and Books.

The new tool was announced as AOL unveiled an expanded search offering that lets consumers quickly narrow queries, among other features.

As part of the programming guide, editors at Moviefone will pick out movies and DVDs based on ratings provided by the Motion Picture Association of America and the nonprofit organization Common Sense Media. Editors at CityGuide will select family-oriented events in various categories, ranging from holiday shows to museum exhibits to theme parks in cities nationwide, the company said.

For some time now, AOL has carefully been cultivating the image of a responsible ISP by launching a number of initiatives that give parents master control over content browsed by their offspring. Measures include a safe chat room program AOL launched along with VeriSign to protect children from sexual predators prowling on the Net. AOL also has developed a package, dubbed "Red," that targets teenagers by cautiously choosing content.