Understanding American Movie Ratings – What Each Movie Rating Means

Now that you know that the actual movie rating will look like, whether on the DVD box (usually on the back, near the bottom), or on the movie preview or poster, let’s take a look at each rating and explain what each one means. Since you are probably in the care of younger children, it will be pretty easy to decide what is and is not appropriate. It is when you get into the pre-teen and teen years that gray areas can exist. Be sure to always check with the parent before showing or taking children in your care to any movie, film or performance.

Now, to the meaning of each rating. As I told you in my last blog, each and every movie is given a rating. The rating is actually decided by a panel of parents, but that is for another day.

The first and easiest rating to understand is the rating G for General Audiences. This is a film which allows admittance of all ages. This is not to say it is necessarily a children’s film, but it is to say there is no nudity, sex scenes or drug use and that it “contains nothing… that would offend parents whose younger children view the motion picture.” (Source: http://www.mpaa.org/ratings/what-each-rating-means)

Next is the PG Parental Guidance Suggested rating. This is a film which requires some conversation and discussion with parents before taking any child to see it. Although no drug use is shown in a PG film, there may be brief scenes containing nudity, profanity or violence which make some PG movies inappropriate for younger viewers. Parents should definitely make the decision if they want their children exposed to the more mature films often seen in PG rated movies.

PG-13 is a rating which should give one greater caution, particularly for viewers under age thirteen. PG-13 is a gray area, in my opinion, between the usually acceptable PG rating and the adults-only R rating. It allows a single use of harsher, sexually-derived words as an expletive. It allows a greater degree of adult theme, violence, nudity, sensuality and language than the PG movie, but not quite to the level of the Restricted, or R rating. Parents must be consulted about the appropriateness of PG-13 movies, no matter the age of the child!

The first adult-only rating in America is R-Restricted. This means a movie is generally not appropriate for children 17 and under, and theatres will not allow admittance to children 17 and under without being accompanied by an adult or guardian. Parents and caregivers are strongly urged to consider the R-Restricted rating as a warning that the movie will contain adult themes, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse and intense violence. Please do not bring children or teens to view R rated movies!

The last rating you may see in theatres or on DVD boxes is the NC-17 rating, which means no children will be allowed admittance under any conditions because the movie has been deemed to have one or more elements of adult theme, violence, sex, drug abuse or any behaviors parents consider off-limits to kids. An NC-17 rating does not automatically mean a film is obscene or pornographic, but simply inappropriate for children 17 and under.

I hope this has been helpful to you, and brief enough that you can understand the basics of choosing movies with appropriate ratings to view with your Host Family children! Happy movie marathon!

Make 2013 your year for a cultural child care experience! Visit us at http://www.goaupair.com for complete program details.

My name is Joan Lowell, the Go Au Pair LAR (Local Area Rep) for the Providence area.

You can apply now at http://hostfamilies.goaupair.com/host-family-application.aspx or contact me at jlowell@goaupair.com or at 401-309-1925 for more information.

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