Should my Child Watch this Movie: Figuring out Movie Ratings

These days going to movies seems like it requires taking out a small loan. Not only are ticket prices hovering around $10 each but popcorn and soda are approaching prices that the oil companies would be proud of.

On top of this, you are expected to decipher the movie ratings which can seem rather foggy at times. Is a movie that’s rated PG suitable for your four-year-old? How about a PG-13 movie? Should a child really be 13 in order to see it?

When trying to figure out if a movie is suitable for your child the best place to start his understanding what the movie ratings mean.

The Motion Picture Association of America has five official ratings for movies. These are:

G for general audiences
PG for parental guidance suggested
PG-13 for parental guidance strongly suggested for children under the ages of 13
R for restricted to children under the ages 18 unless accompanied by adults
NC-17 for no one 17 and under will be permitted into the theater.

You’re most likely to G rating on strictly children’s movies. These will be movies that have happy endings and are completely without violence or any sexually suggestive situations and language. These movies are absolutely safe to lets children of any age watch.

PG movies are more along the lines of a family film, something that both mom and dad and the kids will enjoy. PG films may have some low-level violence such as a fistfight, mildly sexually suggestive situations such as a kissing scene or is slightly stressful situations such as when the bad guy has the good guy in a tough spot. Most children over the age of eight are more than capable of handling situations they see on screen in PG films. Children under the age of eight may be either frightened by or unable to understand some of the situations that happened in a PG film, depending on the emotional age of the individual child.

PG-13 movies are meant for a slightly older audience than PG films. In PG-13 films you are likely to find higher levels of violence such as gunfights and blood, more sexually suggestive situations, though not overly sexual, such as long involved kissing or some fondling and more suspenseful and intense situations. PG-13 may also have explicit language such as curse words or descriptive sex words. Parents should think carefully and perhaps preview the movie before taking children under the age of 13 to the movie. That being said, most children over the age of 10 are capable of handling the situations and language seen in these movies.

R movies are meant for adults. Rated R movies may have extreme violence, sexually explicit situations, extremely intense situations or a lot of extreme language. R rated films may also show drug use or more serious criminal activity. Children under the age of 16 should not be permitted without adults. Technically, movie theaters are suppose to ID children and verify that they have an adult with them but most of the time this does not happen. Parents should probably not take children under the age of 10 to these movies. For children between the ages of 10 and 16, parents should give serious consideration as to whether or not the child is mature enough to handle situations found within the movie.

NC-17 is a relatively new rating. It was created to replace the generic X rating. It is unusual to find a movie in theaters with a rating of NC-17. Most filmmakers wish to avoid this rating as is considered by the public to be the same category as porn. While movies do receive the NC-17 rating due to extremely sexually explicit situations, the NC-17 rating is meant to help a movie viewer know the difference between a crafted movie with a developed plot and characters and a movie whose sole purpose is to show sexually explicit scenes.

Unofficially, there is a rating of X. This rating has been adopted by the pornography industry in order to indicate to a customer that the film they are buying contains extremely sexually explicit situations and has made for the sole purpose of showing those sexual situation. As most porn movies are released straight to video or are shown on only a very limited release, they are not subject to the normal rating system.

With all movies, parents need to consider the emotional maturity of their children when deciding if a child is old enough to watch the movie. Now that you understand a little bit better about the movie rating system, you should feel little more comfortable about taking your children to the movies. That is of course, if you’ve taken out a large enough loan in order to cover the cost.