“But I’m 13, so I should be able to watch any PG-13 movie!” complained my eighth-grader.
This, of course, was after we realized she had watched “Easy A,” a movie that albeit has no nudity, is entirely about teenage sex. In the same weekend, she also watched “Abduction” with her best friend. Since her friend had already seen it, I assumed it was a reasonable choice. (Never assume.) Unfortunately, my husband and I viewed it after the fact and were stunned to see a steamy groping scene about halfway through the flick.
I will not be receiving the “Mother of the Year” award any time soon.
The movie rating system is only a guide and can’t necessarily be trusted to determine what is appropriate for my family. As a parent, it is my job to do a little research before saying yes to the pleadings of a 13-year-old daughter begging to go to the movies with her friends. I had gotten a little lax, convincing myself that because she sees and hears so much on the bus or at school these days that my parental censorship was futile. However, after viewing a couple of these most recent attractions, I am reminded that it is one thing to hear fellow teens talk and another to see two teens thrusting their bodies together, pelvis to pelvis, while squeezing each others’ bottoms, on the big screen. It’s no wonder too many young teens engage in adult activity. We’ve desensitized them and crippled their ability to filter their actions. What happened to getting goose bumps from hand-holding or quick innocent kisses?
There are so many different types of easily accessible media that it makes it harder and harder to know what is appropriate. And it is not limited to just the movies they watch. I also think it’s important to know what kind of content is being targeted to which age groups so that you can have informative discussions with your kids about what they are listening to, watching, gaming and reading.
Here are a few great resources that help me make educated decisions about what my children watch, read and listen. Hopefully your family will find them useful too.
Common Sense Media: This website is my favorite and has a wealth of information. The reviews cover movies in theaters, movies to rent, television shows, apps, games, websites, books and even music. One of the things I like best about this resource is how they provide more than just a general review. They break everything down into categories: educational value, positive message, positive role models, violence, sex, language, consumerism, drinking, drugs and smoking. I also like how their reviews list the movie rating age and what they consider the “appropriate” age. For example, “Abduction” is rated PG-13 but Common Sense Media recommends age 14.
Plugged In: This website does not give book reviews but provides detailed reviews for movies, music, games, TV and video. It is sponsored by Focus on the Family, a non-denominational global Christian ministry dedicated to strengthening families. Although this is a religious based organization, I have found their movie and book reviews extremely helpful for additional information regarding what type of underlying message might be exhibited by a movie or author.
Mamma Bookworm: A wonderful selection of book reviews by parents and teachers for all age groups. The website is very user-friendly and makes it easy to find appropriate books for specific age groups and categories.
Thriving Family: This is another resource provided by Focus on the Family but is dedicated to only book reviews.