When Is a Child Appropriately Aged? Experiencing Violent and Romantic Era Films
Movies have become a tradition in the twenty-first century. Movies are a common way for people of all ages to unwind. Movies have become ingrained in our culture as a result of our newspapers. In reality, for some, it has turned into a pastime. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) established viewership ratings based on the content for the benefit of children. The letter G or P.G. stands for general audiences or parental guidance, respectively. All ages are allowed to watch the former, while the latter warns of adult themes, some kind of nudity, alcohol, tobacco use as well as violence (Council on Communications and Media 4). Other ratings for older people include PG-13 and R labels. Therefore, the material therein is not suitable for children. As much as that has been done, movies’ scenes seldom lack some form of violence or romance. Apparently, television is the largest broadcaster of such films. Sometimes a parent would find his or her children watching movies containing sex or violence scenes. One is left to wonder at what point in age a child should be exposed to such content. This work, therefore, assesses the age at which a child should be allowed to watch movies containing violence or sex scenes.
There are paramount consequences of children being exposed to movies with sex and violent scenes. First of all, allowing children to spend a lot of their time watching movies raises health and developmental concerns. We have had issues of obesity (Suglia, Duarte and Chambers 549), sleep deprivation (Garrison, Liekweg and Christakis 30), cognitive, language and social/emotional delays (Lin, Cherng and Chen 24) among preschool children. Similarly, Pediatrics and Child Health (2003) found out that movies influence the psychological development of children. The psychological problems include depression, anxiety and post-traumatic disorder (PCH 302). Besides, a child’s time for vital activities such as playing, sleep, regular exercise, socializing with peers and family among other activities is limited (PCH 302). Chiefly, the influence of movies depends on how much time is spent on watching them. Long hours’ watching means less time is spent on studies. Such children perform poorly at school. However, it is good to note that some programs are very educational to children. On the contrary, concerns are being raised about the high violence content, sexuality and offensive language use in the dabbed general audience movies (Heffner 31). Coupled with the music the children listen to, sex and violence dominate the media they are exposed to. Resultantly, children have demonstrated aggressive behavioral problems as a result of violent movies (Heffner 33). They have also become insensitive to pain and suffering of others, and some are fearful of the world around them. Heffner also asserts that parents have unknowingly dropped the ball as well by allowing their children to watch all sorts of movies. According to them, they watched action movies during their young ages but never practiced what they saw. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for the children today. They imitate the violence and become aggressive to their peers at school and even siblings at home for fear of being the victims of violence. In fact, according to World Health Organization, 91% of movies on US television are composed of mild to extreme violence scenes (Worth 308). Research also indicates that gun violence has increased in PG-13 movies since the introduction of rating in 1985 (Bushman 1015; Romer, Patrick and Brad 877).
For the case of romantic scenes, children start engaging in sexual intercourse at a very tender age. Besides, they get an entirely different perception of what love is all about. The fairytales teach them of ideas such as love at first sight for the attractive people and happily ever after unions (Landrum 10; Marostica para.5). They grow with misconceptions about love and romance as depicted in films. As such, they will live through life with the expectations of what they watch (Harrell para.5). Unfortunately, that is not real, and it could cause relationship fallouts and marriage breakage for a failure of replication of the same in their own relationships. It is evident that “children learn by observing, imitating and making behaviors their own by trying out behavioral scripts.” (Committee on Public Education 1223). Similarly, PG and R labels have been reported to attract children. They become curious to watch what is forbidden for them. This is particularly the case for boys.
Regarding the appropriate age, a child can watch such movies; Bushman states that it is not a matter of years as children transit from a young age to teens then adolescence. He says that parents should co-view shows and content with their children and know which is appropriate for their age (Bushman 1017). But in the current economy where parents are busy outdoors to bring food on the table, it is almost impossible that parents will find time in their busy schedules to sit down and watch a movie with their young sons and daughters. Even with the current trend whereby cartoons are showcasing violence scenes, it’s hard to control the situation. As a matter of fact, over the years, parents have been made to believe that cartoons are the best for children. According to psychologists and pediatricians, eighteen years is the minimum age a child should be allowed to watch such movies (Committee on Public Education 1223). The age is suggested owing to the effects of violent and sex filled movies.
MPAA has always defended their ratings and shifted the blame on movie casters and parents. They claim that aggressive behavior in children is as a result of multiple factors such as aggression and conflict at home. According to them, these are the high-risk causative factors. They blame parents for failing to keep an eye on their children’s media and movie creators who underrate their productions (Worth 307). Knorr, a parenting expert advises that at the age of 2-4 years, children should only be allowed to watch a non-violent cartoon, age 5-7, slapstick and fantasy violence cartoon is right for them, and eight to ten-year-olds can watch gunplay of action hero sword fighting movies(para.6). She goes on further to state, “For 11-12-year-olds, historical action movies composed of battles and fantasy clashes is okay for them excluding graphic violence, racial stereotypes, and sexual situations.” Likewise, “ages 13-17 are likely to be exposed to violent movies but the parental advice of how such portrayed violence is hurtful and causes suffering if practiced is crucial. The time they watch such movies and play M-rated video games should be limited” (Knorr para.6). But just how far a parent or caregiver can establish that the content is right for their kids remains elusive considering that they may lack time to do so.
With the consensus that there are significant amounts of violence in the PG-13 rated movies, parents who are lovers of movies are more permissive of the kind of movies their children can watch. As such, they subscribe to the notion that age 14 is appropriate for watching violence and sex scene movies. However, this is contrary to older parents who state that age seventeen is appropriate (Hanes para.3). As much as movie ratings guide parents on a film’s content, it is up to an individual to decide which movie is appropriate for their children. With such disparities coupled with technology and 24/7 media access, it is evident that more kids will be exposed to sex and violent movies earlier in their life considering that some of their parents are avid movie watchers. As such, a majority of parents have become desensitized to violence and sex in movies (Sifferlin para.5). Romer states, “If they see violence, or if they see sex, they are more accepting to any kind of objectionable content.” This means such parents are, therefore, more accepting of lenient ratings (Romer, Patrick and Brad 883).
Considering that majority of children own phones at the age 11-14 years, some as early as eight years, the likelihood that they will access the internet is very high. The fact that children even have TVs in their bedrooms worsens the situation. They can smoothly stream online videos using the phones. Unfortunately, such videos are not rated, and some showcase brutal staff. It is imperative that parents let their children understand the consequences of watching movies with violence and sex scenes as it is not easy to control what they watch when alone. As it stands, the subject about the appropriate age for children to be exposed to such videos is debatable and entirely depends on the kind of parents of the children. However, as per experts’ advice, age 18 is the appropriate age.
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