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Minerva Pediatrica 2002 February;54(1):1-2


language: English

Parents rate the ratings: a test of the validity of the American movie, television, and video game ratings

Walsh D. A., Gentile D. A., Van Brederode T. M.


Background. Numerous studies have documented the potential effects on young audiences of violent content in media products, including movies, television programs, and computer and video games. Similar studies have evaluated the effects associated with sexual content and messages. Cumulatively, these effects represent a significant public health risk for increased aggressive and violent behavior, spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and pediatric pregnancy. In partial response to these risks and to public and legislative pressure, the movie, television, and gaming industries have implemented ratings systems intended to provide information about the content and appropriate audiences for different films, shows, and games.
Methods. We conducted a panel study to test the validity of the current movie, television, and video game rating systems. Participants used the KidScore media evaluation tool, which evaluates films, television shows, and video and computer games on 10 aspects, including the appropriateness of the media product for children on the basis of age.
Results. Results revealed that when an entertainment industry rates a product as inappropriate for children, parent raters agree that it is inappropriate for children. However, parent raters disagree with industry usage of many of the ratings designating material suitable for children of different ages. Products rated as appropriate for adolescents are of the greatest concern. The level of disagreement varies from industry to industry and even from rating to rating.
Conclusions. Analysis indicates that the amount of violent content and portrayals of violence are the primary markers for disagreement between parent raters and industry ratings. Short-term and long-term recommendations are suggested.

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