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A Guide to Parental Ratings For All Types of Media

According to research from Common Sense Media, children age 8 and younger spend an average of about two hours and 15 minutes a day looking at a screen. How much do you really know about the media your children consume on a daily basis? Do you trust the rating systems that have been established? We may think we know what “parental guidance” means, but the designation can vary from medium to medium: What’s allowed in a movie aimed at children may be different than what’s allowed in video games for kids. While there is no one standard for all media ratings, many organizations have taken it upon themselves to create rating systems of their own.

The following graphic explores the differences between television, video game, comic book, and movie ratings to help parents and guardians decide what content is appropriate for their children.

What Is a Parental Rating?

A parental rating is a guideline created in order to give parents a better understanding of the media content their children consume. Ratings organizations are generally made up of experts in the entertainment industry who create and monitor sets of rating standards. These standards are applied consistently across nearly all new media, so parents can rest assured that films given a G rating are suitable for children of all ages. Each type of media has its own unique rating guidelines, though most are modeled after the Motion Picture Association’s film rating system.

While these ratings can be a useful tool, parents are encouraged to do research on each media rating system so that they fully understand what type of content may be included. Ultimately, it’s up to parents to decide whether or not content is suitable for their families.

  1. Movies: The movie rating system created by the Motion Picture Association is perhaps the most well-known rating system. The system was introduced in 1968. Movie age ratings have evolved through the years, and the current ratings system has been in place since 1996.

  2. Television: The TV parental guidelines were originally created in 1996 as a joint effort between various segments of the entertainment industry, including the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, and the Motion Picture Association of America, in response to increasingly graphic and explicit content included in television programs. These ratings are now monitored by the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board, which is comprised of executives and experts in the television industry.

  3. Video Games: Video game ratings are set by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. The board was established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association after excessive criticism over video games with graphic content.

  4. Comic Books: While there is no official standard for comic book ratings, the two largest publishers of comic books, DC and Marvel, have established rating systems for their own content. Many other comic book publishers have adopted similar rating systems.

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