Another important aspect of parenting is being involved with your kids. No amount of technological monitoring can substitute for your involvement. One form of involvement is being aware of what your children are doing. Whether it is going to the movies, watching TV, or playing video games; there are resources for a parent to know at a glance what type of content the entertainment their children are viewing has.
Movies started the ratings trend back in the 60’s. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) decided that it was better to rate a movie for age appropriateness rather than to tell a film maker what they could and couldn’t put in a movie. A modern movie rating can not only tell you what age range a movie is appropriate for, but what kinds of content the movie has in it. Thus if you feel strongly against violence, you know not to let your 16 year old watch a movie that is rated PG 13 for violence, even though the rating may say it wouldn’t scar your child. Another thing movie ratings do is keep kids out of adult movies. Children can’t even get into R rated movies without a parent, and they can’t get into NC 17 movies at all. For more information about movie ratings check our ratings page (link) or the MPAA website.
Movie ratings worked so well TV followed suit. It took some three decades before Congress mandated that the FCC and television networks rate their programs, but now every TV show has a rating symbol in the corner at the beginning. Many programs run the same rating symbol after commercial breaks as well. The ratings are different from their movie rating companions, mostly because the limitations for broadcast television are different from film. There are also more divisions in TV age ratings, such as Y, Y7, and 14. These ratings indicate that there is a difference between a TV show you’d show your toddler, and what you’d let your 10 year old watch.
It may surprise you to know that video games embraced an age rating system before television did, and that they did so without congressional mandate. In 1994 the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) was created. Software ratings range from EC for early childhood games, to AO for adult only games. More importantly for parents, the ratings will tell you why the game is suggested for the age range that it is. Whether its violence, dialogue, adult themes, or suggestive language, the box says what the game entails, which allows you to make a better decision on whether it is appropriate for your child. For more information on game ratings visit our game ratings page (link) or the ESRB’s site.
Knowing the rating of the shows, movies, and games your children are playing is a good start, but it’s not nearly enough. Spend time watching TV, going to movies, or even playing video games with your children. This will give you an opportunity to discuss the things your children are watching with them. This involvement is the most important aspect of parenting, and ratings are just a means to help you with it.