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Understanding Media Ratings
RATED E FOR EVERYONE
WHAT DO RATINGS MEAN, AND HOW SHOULD YOU USE THEM?
Despite guidance from ratings systems, it can be difficult for parents to discern what digital content is appropriate for their children. Learn more about ratings guidelines for common entertainment media and how to decipher that information so you can make educated decisions that work for your family. MOVIES: G-rated movies are considered suitable for all ages, whereas PG, PG-13, and R-rated movies are progressively less appropriate for kids because of violence, nudity, and language. Some ratings come with age limits; children who are under the age of 17 must be accompanied by an adult at R-rated movies. TV SHOWS: Due to laws that limit inappropriate content on public airwaves, TV rating systems follow unique codes. In the U.S., shows that are rated as TV-14 (content that is suitable for those ages 14 and older) can only air after 5 p.m. Meanwhile, TV-MA (content that is appropriate for mature audiences) can only air between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Most shows airing between the hours of 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. are rated TV-G or TV-PG. These are similar in content to their movie counterparts. Some television children’s shows will also be rated as TV-Y or TV-Y7, and their only distinction is that TV-Y7 has been deemed appropriate for young children ages 7 and older. TV ratings
can also have additional descriptors attached to them to explain what kind of content earned the rating.
VIDEO GAMES: There are seven video game ratings: Early Childhood (EC), Everyone (E), Everyone 10+ (E10), Teen (T), Mature (M), Adults Only (AO), or Rating Pending (RP). These ratings provide consumers with more information about content. Again, as the age of the intended user increases, content progresses from allowing mild violence or suggestive content to adult themes. When choosing family entertainment, experts suggest using both the rating and the description of the media to make your decision since the rating system may not fully explain media content. For example, studies have found that a PG-13 movie can sometimes have just as much violence as an R-rated movie. Additionally, you may be fine with the content in a T-rated video game for a more developmentally advanced 11-year-old. Once you get past all the combinations of numbers and letters, you as a parent might find that ratings for video games, movies, and TV shows provide helpful information. Couple the ratings with your own research and your own values, and put an end to worrying about what surprises may lurk in your children’s media.
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