How many times do you see the bold age restrictions on DVD covers, TV screens or PC games but choose to ignore them? There are parents who feel that age restrictions are silly or extreme and they allow their 8 year olds, or worse, their 5 year olds to watch DVDs or programs which have been restricted for audiences 13 years and older.
The question is why are movies age restricted, what do the restrictions mean and does it really matter if kids watch films or programs which are age restricted?
The Film and Publication Board in South Africa regulate the age restrictions which are placed on DVDs, films, and computer games.
- A G-rating means the film is child friendly and suitable for family viewing.
- A PG Rating advises that parents watch with their underage children.
- A 13-rating indicates that the content may contain mild violence, sexual innuendo and language.
- A 16-rating means that audiences under the age of 16 are prohibited from viewing the film, as it contains moderate violence, strong language and sex.
- An R18 or X18 rating is a rating given to films or programs which contain explicit violence, very strong language and which contain explicit sex scenes. X18 is a program or movie which has scenes of a very explicit sexual nature (pornography). These movies are found in adult shops and are not allowed to be screened publically.
The Board regulates films, programs and computer games to assist parents and to help them to make the choice if they want their kids to be exposed to the contents of the film, program or game.
If these restrictions are not adhered to, studies have shown that children who are exposed to the violent or sexual scenes will be affected in some way. Children are like sponges and what they see or hear will be remembered. Kids are not able to differentiate between fact and fiction and when watch movies which are of a violent nature; they may try to reenact these scenes.
Experts agree that kids who are bombarded with TV or movie violence harbor feelings of anger or resentment and they are unable to feel empathy to others, simply because they have become numb to the pain and suffering of others. Age restricted movies may portray that adults have sex anywhere and with anyone – kids may very well grow up believing that adult sex (or worse teen sex) has no consequences or they will expect sex to happen on the first date!
Parents are faced with choices daily – whether to follow the speed limit, to wear their seatbelts or to heed the warnings on cigarette boxes and to allow their underage kids to watch age restricted films and programs, and these decisions should be given their due thought.
– Kathy Baron