Warning to Parents about Violence in PG-13 Movies

Warning to Parents about Violence in PG-13 Movies

In The Lone Ranger an entire tribe of Native Americans is slaughtered and a bad guy makes a meal of an enemy’s heart -- PG-13. Isolated movie horror? The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) says your kids will view over 16,000 murders on the big and small screen before age 18 -- and more often PG-13 films are becoming the source.

A recent study found gun violence in PG-13 films more than tripled from 1985-2010 and now contain more gun violence than R-rated films. (PG-13 means parents are strongly cautioned about letting kids 13 or younger see the film.) 

Does this matter? According to the AACAP, on-screen violence is often shown to be the only way to resolve conflict. Seems like this conflict-resolution technique has become common in a few NFL locker rooms. Are these related? Impressionable kids, especially those with emotional problems (and some of those playing macho sports), often adopt such aggressive behaviors. And even if repeated exposure to on-screen violence doesn’t spark aggressive behavior, it amps up fear. Not a good foundation for a happy life.

So parents take the G (guidance) in PG-13 seriously and read movie reviews before giving the thumbs up or down. And guess what? Your kids really won’t mind if you explain your reasons for a thumbs down. They want to curb violence; 64% believe government officials aren’t doing enough to create common-sense gun laws. Maybe PG means parents need guidance -- and the kids can give it!

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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