My mother was one of the “strict” ones who always monitored my television and movie viewings. She didn’t approve of certain films; consequently, I wasn’t allowed to watch them. Movies have gotten even more “adult” in nature, and even the lowest ratings can have adult themes that aren’t necessarily appropriate for your children. You don’t want to expose your children to things of which you don’t approve, so here are tips on rating movie content for children.
Look beyond the ratings.
You might not agree with the specific ratings of movies (G, PG, etc.), but you can usually figure out what earned the ratings by digging a little bit deeper. For example, you can usually read in your TV Guide a description of the ratings, such as: some violence, partial nudity. This will often be a more reliable indicator of the content of a movie. If you don’t get the TV Guide or if a movie is in theaters, check out IMDB.com, which will usually have these descriptions as well as quotes from the movie and other interesting tidbits.
Watch the movie yourself.
Rating movie content for children isn’t always possible until you’ve seen the movie yourself. Rent it or go see it in the theater without your children to get an idea of what it contains. If you think that it’s suitable after viewing it yourself, you can take your children at a later date or allow them to go with a friend. Several movies have surprised me over the last few years and, had I not seen them myself, I might have deprived my children of an excellent film.
Stick to your guns.
In this day and age, parents who work hard to rate movie content for children are really in the minority. Many parents have gotten so relaxed about violence, sexual content, cursing and other adult content that they expose their children to everything. While I would never tell another parent what to allow his or her children to watch, I don’t allow my children to watch those same movies. You’ll have to deal with the whining and complaining about how “Susie got to watch it, why can’t I?” This is something you’ll just have to stick out until your children are older.
Know your child.
Some movies are appropriate for some children, but would give others of the same age nightmares. If your child is easily scared my monsters or ghosts or goblins, then you should be careful to rate those movies before allowing them to see it. In some cases, you’ll have to judge the movie by your child and not necessarily age-appropriate content. I hate to admit this, but Never-Ending Story scared me to death when I was a child. We all have issues!
Watch it together.
If you’re sitting on the fence about a particular movie, watch it with your children and then talk about it afterward. If it contains things that you don’t really want them to see, talk about how it is a movie (fiction) and different from reality. Answer any questions they have and talk about why movies shouldn’t be taken seriously. If your child is scared or disturbed by a movie, it might take a while for him or her to calm down.