I have had a week of having to justify myself to my children, and I am sick of it.
So here is what has happened. For those who have older kids, you will have heard of the movie ‘Unfriended’ which has hit the cinema. It is a movie about a teenage girl who commits suicide after a ‘not so nice’ video of her at a party was posted online. On the one year anniversary of her death, the 5 teenagers who were involved in posting the video, are all together online on a chat group. They are all stalked and killed off one by one from a mystery called pretending to be the girl who committed suicide.
Great movie plot huh? Anyway, it is rated here in Australia as MA15+, which I think is a suitable rating. My 11-year-old son asks me if he can watch the movie – with his Dad and when I said “Ummm NO”, he argued that if he saw this with his father, everything would be fine. He also told me that he has seen many horror movies before and that’s all this movie is.
How do I explain that it is the content that is not appropriate, not actually the horror?
Then my 13-year-old also asked to see the movie with friends and once again, I said “Ummm NO”, and once again I was the bad guy. I am not the bad guy, I am simply not allowing them to see a movie which is not age appropriate . I am trying to pick the right movie for their age group.
Here are the classifications as they stand in Australia:
The content is very mild in impact. The G classification is suitable for everyone. G products may contain classifiable elements such as language and themes that are very mild in impact. However, some G-classified films or computer games may contain content that is not of interest to children.
PARENTAL GUIDANCE [PG]
The content is mild in impact. The impact of PG (Parental Guidance) classified films and computer games should be no higher than mild, but they may contain content that children find confusing or upsetting and may require the guidance or parents and guardians. They may, for example, contain classifiable elements such as language and themes that are mild in impact. It is not recommended for viewing or playing by persons under 15 without guidance from parents or guardians.
The content is moderate in impact. Films and computer games classified M (Mature) contain content of a moderate impact and are recommended for teenagers aged 15 years and over. Children under 15 may legally access this material because it is an advisory category. However, M classified films and computer games may include classifiable elements such as violence and nudity of moderate impact that are not recommended for children under 15 years.
Parents and guardians may need to find out more about the film or computer game’s specific content, before deciding whether the material is suitable for their child.
MATURE ACCOMPANIED [MA15+]
The content is strong in impact. MA15+ classified material contains strong content and is legally restricted to persons 15 years and over. It may contain classifiable elements such as sex scenes and drug use that are strong in impact.
A person may be asked to show proof of their age before hiring or purchasing an MA15+ film or computer game. Cinema staff may also request that the person show proof of their age before allowing them to watch an MA15+ film. Children under the age of 15 may not legally watch, buy or hire MA15+ classified material unless they are in the company of a parent or adult guardian. Children under 15 who go to the cinema to see an MA15+ film must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian for the duration of the film.
The parent or adult guardian must also purchase the movie ticket for the child. The guardian must be an adult exercising parental control over the person under 15 years of age. The guardian needs to be 18 years or older.
The content is high in impact. R18+ material is restricted to adults. Such material may contain classifiable elements such as sex scenes and drug use that are high in impact. Some material classified R18+ may be offensive to sections of the adult community. A person may be asked for proof of their age before purchasing, hiring or viewing R18+ films and computer games at a retail store or cinema.
After I showed my kids how movies are rated, and they unhappily disagreed, I told them this is how I pick the right movie for you:
- Check the rating of the movie the EXPERTS have given it.
- Watch the trailer a couple of times
- Head to IMDb to see what they have to say about the movie
- Head to a couple of other reputable review sites you trust, like Rotten Tomatoes and gather their perspective.
- Check out the official website for the movie
- And finally, see how the movie is being rated in other countries.
After doing all this, you will have a pretty good idea if you think the movie is going to suit your child or not. Oh and by the way, in the USA, Unfriended is rated R (for violent content, pervasive language, sexuality, drug & alcohol use – all involving teens).
So to my middle 2 children –