I knew it was coming. Our son had hinted at it more than once. Try as I might, I can’t keep him little forever.
Daddy has a huge movie collection and our oldest hinted more than once about watching some of the PG-13 movies, especially the superheros ones.
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We always said no. We didn’t want to expose him to anything too early. He asked again, while on vacation with extended family to see a PG-13 superhero movie playing in the local theaters.
We were overdue for some mommy son one on one time. I had built in baby-sitters for the other two kids. The opportunity was perfect, but was he ready to see a PG-13 movie? Was I ready to let him see a PG-13 movie?
How do you determine if your child is old enough to see PG 13 movies?
The The Motion Picture Association of America defines PG-13 movies as having some material that may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.
While The Motion Picture Association of America recommends that children under 13 do not see PG-13 movies, there is no magical age.
This is going to be different for every family and maybe even every child.
5 Questions to Help Guide Your Decision
1. What do we know about the movie?
Watch the movie trailer, read reviews talk to other parents, or see the movie yourself first. Know what kind of content your child will be exposed to.
PG-13 movies can be pretty violent. A study in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found since 2009 that PG-13 movies contain as much violence or more as rated R movies. Many studies have shown that just the presence of guns can increase aggression.
Reader update: Ali from Home Crafts by Ali recommends using Kids in Mind to research the movies your child wants to see. They provide objective detailed information on movies for parents. Their summaries are very detailed and comprehensive.
Grandpa and an uncle saw Ant-man this summer before our son saw the movie and gave us their input on the movie.
2. What can your child handle?
Does your child know the difference between real and pretend? By age six or seven most kids have a strong grasp of the difference between real and pretend. Prior to that age, when kids see a violent scene, they worry that it will happen to them. Make note that even when they understand the difference, kids who watch violent scenes are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior.
3. What do you feel comfortable with your kids seeing?
What are your values? As a parent, how do you feel about language, violence, sex or nudity? Some parents are okay with some language and violence, but draw the line with sex or nudity. Kids will push the boundaries, so hold true to your beliefs.
4. Who will go with your child to the movie?
We you child be seeing the movie with you, friends, or other family members? It is important to watch your child during the movie for clues that they are handling it okay and/or to debrief after the movie. Following the movie, ask your child what they liked best about the movie or what they did not like. Talking about scenes can help them put it in context and provide a little more perspective. In the process, you’ll be sharing your values and your messages will come through.
It was important to us that our son attend the movie with either myself or his dad. It provided the perfect opportunity for some much needed one on one time with me.
5. What type of ads and previews will be shown?
If your child is seeing the PG-13 movie at the theater they will see several minutes of ads and trailers of coming attractions geared towards the audience watching the movie. Unfortunately you can educate yourself on the movie, but not the ads or previews that will be playing prior to the start of the movie. If this is a big concern, the ways around this are: enter the movie right before it is starting, enter after it starts, want until it is released on DVD or can be streamed at home.
This was something that we did not take into consideration. Our son found one of the ads that was shown prior to the movie starting slightly scary. I watched him and his reactions throughout the movie and was able to see his reaction to this ad. I quietly asked him if he was okay and then we talked about the ad following the movie. This was not a deal breaker for us, but I was glad I noticed it and could ask him about it.
You don’t have to make a blanket decision. Review each movie and make your decision based on each individual movie.
Our son has seen one other PG-13 movie since he watched his first one. He finally got the opportunistic to watch one from Daddy’s collection that he had been admiring for some time.
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