TV Ratings – What do They Really Mean?

While your child's favorite TV shows may evolve over time, the TV rating guidelines stay the same. This easy-to-use system is designed to help you decide which programs are a go and which are a no.

“It empowers the parent,” said Heather Feinstein, executive secretary of the TV Parental Guidelines monitoring board, www.tvguidelines.org.

Every TV show, in fact each and every episode of a series, will have an individual rating which alerts the parent as to what type of content may be found within the show.

Like at the movie theatre, there are TV-G, TV-PG, TV-14 and TV-MA (mature audience) ratings. But to make things even easier, there are additional ratings specifically for children’s programming including TV-Y and TV-Y7.

TV Y programs, whether animated or live-action, involve themes and elements that are specifically designed for a very young audience, including children ages 2-6. These programs are not expected to frighten younger children or carry inappropriate language.

TV Y7 ratings are TV shows that may be more appropriate for children ages 7 and above. Themes and elements may include mild fantasy violence or comedic violence, or may frighten children under the age of seven. Therefore, parents may wish to consider the suitability of this program for their very young children.

Another point to know about Y7 ratings is that the program may be more appropriate for children who have acquired the developmental skills needed to distinguish between make-believe and reality.

To further aid parents, there are ratings content descriptors indicating that a program may contain suggestive dialogue (D), coarse or crude language (L), sexual situations (S) or violence (V).

The ratings are not only flashed at the beginning of the show, but cable and satellite companies will frequently include the ratings on the “information” screens – the screens that summarize the program.

If a theatrical movie is being rerun on television it may have been edited and will have a TV rating that is adapted to reflect those modifications.

Also, keep in mind that while a show may be rated TV-G or TV-Y7 there could still be potty language that some parents may find inappropriate.

“The parents are the best judge to gauge what is appropriate for their child,” said Heather. If possible, a parent watching the movie/program before a child sees it is still the best way to go.

For more information visit www.tvguidelines.org/ratings.htm

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