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Movie Ratings and What They Mean

When you think of movie ratings, the one used by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) probably comes to mind. Though movie producers are not required to use the rating system, most movies that make it to the big screen have one of the following MPAA ratings:

G. General Audiences. All Ages Admitted.

Contains very little violence; no nudity, sex, or drug use. May contain some tobacco or alcohol use.

PG. Parental Guideance Suggested. Some Material May Not Be Suitable For Children.

May contain adult themes, alcohol and tobacco use, some profanity, violence, or brief nudity.

PG-13. Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate for Children Under 13.

Contains more intense themes, violence, nudity, sex, or language than a PG film, but not as much as an R. May contain drug use scenes.

R. Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian.

Contains adult material. May include graphic language, violence, sex, nudity, and drug use.

NC-17. No One 17 and Under Admitted. Children should not be admitted.

Contains violence, sex, drug abuse, and other behavior that most parents would consider off-limits to children.

This is the oldest, most well-known, and widely used rating system for any form of media, but it is not perfect. For example, the ratings divide children into three age groups (under 13, 13 to 17, and over 17). However, a PG movie that contains some violence or nudity will have a much different effect on a 5-year-old child than it would a 12-year-old.

Find out as much as you can about a movie before letting your child watch. Read reviews, check the Internet, talk to friends who have seen it. Choose carefully when considering movies with PG-13, PG, and sometimes even G ratings. If you aren't sure, see the movie first, and decide if it is appropriate for your child.

Last Updated
The Ratings Game: Choosing Your Child's Entertainment (Copyright © 2000 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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