Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want 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."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Album Review

Life is a story. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. And sometimes it can seem as if we’re stuck in certain chapters of our story—like growing up—longer than others.

Twenty-two-year-old Alessia Cara is right in the middle of her story. Right in the middle of growing up. She's past adolescence, and she's entering into adulthood where life, especially a famous life, can get overwhelming. And her sophomore album, The Pains of Growing, chronicles the various life transitions she's navigating.

Cara's sultry, soulful sounds permeate all 14 pop-filled tracks as she shares what’s on her heart: love and loss, family and friends, and the life lessons she’s learned along the way.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Emotional healing after a breakup can be hard. And Alessia sings about ending a relationship for her own good (even when she might not want to) in songs such as “Out of Love,” “Nintendo Game,” “Trust My Lonely” and “I Don’t Want To.”

In the first of those songs, Alessia realizes her former beau has moved on, and so must she: “I won’t tell you I’m lonely/‘Cause it might be selfish/I won’t ask you to hold me/‘Cause that won’t mend what’s helpless.” And in “Trust My Lonely,” she decides to put distance between herself and her ex-boyfriend: “Go get your praise from someone else/You did a number on my health/My world is brighter by itself.” She also realizes, in retrospect, some of the dysfunctional elements in past relationships.

Alessia understands that love is a commitment and not a feeling in “Comfortable” (“Oh, we can’t run away from the comfortable/‘Cause it’s inevitable in love, in love”). And in “A Little More,” she wants to continue to learn more about the man she loves: “Please say you’ll never get bored/Can you blame me for wanting a little bit more?”

In “Easier Said,” the singer reassures strugglers that it’s OK to take your time in the healing process, even when the world is rushing you to get well: “Healing and patience are leveraged/Don’t place the blame on your heart, just to shut 'em up.” She feels the same about her personal healing in “Not Today,” as she honestly grapples with her own mental state: “One day I won’t need a Ph.D./To sit me down and tell me what it all means/Maybe one day, it’ll be a breeze/But surely not today.”

Alessia may struggle with her own insecurities in “Girl Next Door” (“I get uncomfortable, hide behind my walls/… But at least I say what I mean”) and “Growing Pains," but she continues to move forward despite them.

“All We Know” and “7 Days” ask hard questions about life and God. In the former, Alessia tries to make sense of life ("Paul says, 'Let it be'/But the others said, 'The test is key'"); and in the latter, she wonders if God is disappointed in humanity (“Does He hang His head at all the greed that we possess?/As the antisocial media perpetuates the mess/ … I hope that through the static, You’ll show us the clarity”).

In “Wherever I Live,” Alessia has learned to make the most of every situation. And in “My Kind,” she looks back on her family and childhood with thankfulness.

Objectionable Content

In “I Don’t Want To,” Alicia flirts with the temptation of staying in a relationship that she knows isn’t good for her: “I could get on a flight, I could make up the time/I know I’m out of line, can I see you?”

“Comfortable” articulates a cynical and disillusioned view of marriage: “They say the honeymoon is just a puppet show/They say nobody really makes it through.” In “7 Days,” Alessia admits that she doesn’t think religion really matters.

We hear “d--n” in the songs “All We Know” and “7 Days.” And on “Wherever I Live” and “My Kind,” there are a few references to crass jokes, hints of sensuality and references to haunted rooms.

Summary Advisory

We don’t learn all about life in a day. But sometimes we wish we could. Life is a continual learning process, one in which we're always changing, moving, shifting. In The Pains of Growing, Alessia Cara gets at this idea with maturity and grace. She recognizes that we won’t ever have all the answers. But she also knows we have to keep moving forward, even when we're not 100% sure of the next step.

In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Alessia talked in depth about wanting to influence her fans and those who listen to her music. She said she wants to help people realize that mainstream media doesn’t have it all figured out and that, more often than not, the media wants to feed the world a “one size fits all” solution. But that solution doesn’t exist. So Alessia encourages us to be honest, realize that it's OK to feel overwhelmed at times. It’s OK to be happy. It’s OK to be sad. It’s OK to struggle.

For the most part, The Pains of Growing is honest and encouraging, uplifting and genuine. True, listeners will have to navigate a few mild profanities and some confessions about lost love. But the overall message here is a refreshingly positive one, one that could help some lonely listeners to realize that they're not alone as they meander along life’s ever-winding road.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range









Record Label

Def Jam Recordings




November 30, 2018

On Video

Year Published



Kristin Smith

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!