Tips to help you choose appropriate movies for your child
When your children want to watch a movie, whether it's at the theater, on television or a rented video from your favorite local video store, keep two things in mind:
- Always check for a rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
- Use your best judgment, better known as common sense.
The MPAA uses five categories to rate movies. The following is a list of these categories, along with a brief description of each:
G: General Audiences. All ages admitted.
This means that a movie with this rating contains very little violence and no nudity, sex, or drug use. However, it may contain some tobacco or alcohol use.
PG: Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
This movie may contain adult themes, alcohol and tobacco use, some profanity, violence, or brief nudity.
PG-13: Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
This means that a movie with this rating may contain more intense themes, violence, nudity, sex or language than a PG film, but not as much as an R-rated movie. It may also contain scenes of drug use.
R: Restricted: Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
A movie with this rating contains adult material. It may include graphic language, violence, sex, nudity and drug use.
NC-17: No one 17 and under admitted.
Children are not admitted. A movie with this rating contains violence, sex, drug abuse, and other behavior that most parents would consider off-limits to children.
If you still have questions about a rating and what the movie is all about, talk with your friends or family members who may have seen the movie in question. Voice your concerns with them and ask if it would be an appropriate movie for your child to watch. Certainly, there is also the factor of a child's age and maturity level but no one knows your child better than you. If all else fails, watch the movie yourself before allowing your child to watch it, and then use your own judgment.
For television, there is a whole different set of ratings called the TV Parental Guidelines. These guidelines have been put in place to help parents determine what their children should or should not view. Most television shows are regulated by the FCC, which has rules on what can be said or done on any specific show. Parents must also consider that news programs and sports do not have ratings, and often include violent scenes. Again, most parents will use their better judgment.
The TV Parental Guidelines use seven categories to rate television programs. These ratings are often shown at the beginning of a program, or can be found in your local TV listings or TV guide. The following is a list of these categories, along with a brief description of each:
TV-Y: All Children. Whether animated or live-action, it is designed for a young audience, including ages two to six. The program is not expected to frighten younger children.
TV-Y7: Directed to Older Children. This rating means the program is suitable for children aged seven and older who can tell the difference between make-believe and reality. The program may contain mild fantasy or comedic violence that could frighten children under seven.
TV-Y7 FV: Directed to Older Children – Fantasy Violence. This rating means the program is suitable for children aged seven and older who can tell the difference between make-believe and reality. The program contains fantasy violence which is more intense or combative than TV-Y7. Violence is the central theme of the program, and the fighting is presented in an exciting way. Violent acts are glorified, and violence is used as an acceptable, effective way to solve a problem. Programs can be cartoons, live-action or a combination of both.
TV-G: General Audience. Most parents would find this program suitable for all ages. There is little to no violence, no strong language and little to no sexual content.
TV-PG: Parental Guidance Suggested. The program contains material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. It may have an inappropriate theme, and it may contain moderate violence, some sexual content, and strong language or suggestive dialogue between characters. This rating will typically be presented as "TV PG" with the letters V, S, L or D under the rating.
TV-14: Parents Strongly Cautioned. The program contains some material potentially unsuitable for children under 14. Again, this rating may also have the above referenced letters beneath it.
TV-MA: Mature Audience. The program may be unsuitable for children under age 17. The above referenced letters may also be seen under the rating.
The first two years of your child's life are especially important in the growth and development of their brain, so parents should be aware that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children age two and younger should not watch television due to its possible effects. After the age of two, the amount of time spent watching television should be minimal, as well as limited to educational programs for young minds.
I believe that most responsible adults will monitor what their children watch and how often they are allowed to watch television. I have three children of my own, with two of them being very young. My husband and I monitor everything they watch at any given time. If we don't feel that a cartoon is appropriate for our three year old, the channel is changed or the television is turned off. This leads to more active children, which in my humble opinion is a good thing!