If you think the PG rating for movies, games and apps is too broad to be a useful guide, you’re in good company. So do more than 75 percent of Australian parents.
And the overwhelming majority - 88 percent - want an age-based system to replace the present National Classification Scheme (NCS) ratings of G, PG, M.
Over 600 mums and dads and carers made their feelings known in an online survey conducted by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM).
Many M movies - think Superhero franchises - are marketed directed to kids through merchandise like action figures, lunchboxes and games, notes ACCM president Prof. Elizabeth Handsley.
Spider-Man Far from Home (rated M) merchandise for kids.
Not surprisingly, 80 percent of parents believed too many kids are being exposed to such films. Nearly 70 percent advocated the introduction of a legally enforced 12+ age restriction for this classification.
The present system is failing to provide parents with enough information to make a judgment call, Handsley observed. And the comments of respondents underscore that concern - especially with respect to the PG rating.
With a very young child, I’ve found managing and navigating his media quite difficult - you need to do a surprising amount of research to find things that are safe for him to watch (and don’t lead to long, awkward conversations about sex, death and why that thing they said was funny - which a small child has an amazing ability to hone in on). Maybe as he’s older the rating system will be more useful, but right now it’s definitely not."
The PG classification is WAY TOO BROAD!!! I took my children (aged 4 and 7) to see Dumbo, which was fine, but then took them to see A Dog’s Journey which was also classified PG and had to walk out half way through the movie! It is completely inappropriate for children that age (drug and alcohol use, aggressive teenage relationships, car accidents) (and that was only in the half of the movie I saw!!!) How can they both have the same classification??? Absolutely ridiculous!!!
Another respondent noted, “As far as I am concerned PG simply means 13 and under and that is a ridiculous rating to exist considering the vast developmental differences between a 3 year old and a 13 year old.”
The consequences for children of exposure to inappropriately adult or violent material are serious, say mental health professionals.
One respondent, who works in a developmental and behavioural clinic as an allied health professional, told researchers she saw a direct link between exposure to mature content and a host of wellbeing issues.
“There are a significant number of children on my caseload (>85%) who are exposed without any parental concern to M and MA content in films who are having anxiety, sleep disturbance, aggressive behaviour and learning difficulties which appear linked to this exposure,” she said.
A new report suggests many mums and dads are sending their kids mixed messages.