PG-13 Violence and Kids

Bhavana and I took the kids to see Jurassic World a few weeks ago. The film is rated PG-13 — these are movies appropriate for kids over 12 — but we both noticed how many younger kids was attending the film with their parents. We had a few pre-K kids in our session. His mother had to keep "shushing" him during the movie because he kept asking questions; loudly. The film has dinosaurs eating people and tearing them to bloody shreds. Are those visuals appropriate for a 4-year-old kid?

Sometimes the PG-13 movies have surprises. We were surprised while watching one of the recent Avengers movies. There was a scene where they walk into a bar to talk to the Wolverine character, and he responds “F*ck Off”. We also saw parents taking their young kids to watch PG-13 movies like the Hunger Games where kids kill each other. I don't consider these movies appropriate for any kids under 13.

What is the definition of PG-13? I looked it up.

PG-13 is thus a sterner warning to parents to determine for themselves the attendance in particular of their younger children as they might consider some material not suited for them. Parents, by the rating, are alerted to be very careful about the attendance of their under-teenage children. A PG-13 film is one which, in the view of the Rating Board, leaps beyond the boundaries of the PG rating in theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, or other contents, but does not quite fit within the restricted R category. Any drug use content will initially require at least a PG-13 rating. In effect, the PG-13 cautions parents with more stringency than usual to give special attention to this film before they allow their 12-year olds and younger to attend. If nudity is sexually oriented, the film will generally not be found in the PG-13 category. If violence is too rough or persistent, the film goes into the R (restricted) rating. A film's single use of one of the harsher sexually-derived words, though only as an expletive, shall initially require the Rating Board to issue that film at least a PG-13 rating. More than one such expletive must lead the Rating Board to issue a film an R rating, as must even one of these words used in a sexual context. These films can be rated less severely; however, if, by a special vote, the Rating Board feels that a lesser rating would more responsibly reflect the opinion of American parents. PG-13 places larger responsibilities on parents for their children's moviegoing. The voluntary rating system is not a surrogate parent, nor should it be. It cannot, and should not, insert itself in family decisions that only parents can, and should, make. Its purpose is to give prescreening advance informational warnings so that parents can form their judgments. PG-13 is designed to make these parental decisions easier for films between PG and R.

Bhavana and I never took the kids to movies that were inappropriate for their age. For years we took our kids to G rated only movies. The kind that makes you laugh and cry and teach you something about family and friendship along the way. The PG, PG-13 and R rated movies? We sucked it up, stayed home, and watched them on DVD or Netflix when the kids went to sleep. If we wanted to see a movie in the theatre, we found a baby sitter (usually a family member). They got to spend time with an aunt and uncle, and we got to be out for a few hours.

While I understand that young parents need a break from cleaning up messes and endless hours of Dora the Explorer and Thomas again and again, a PG-13 rated movie isn’t the best place — in my opinion — to hang out with your kids. Don’t be surprised when your 5-year-old starts using words like bitch, asshole and f*ck. Those PG-13 movies are stealing your babies innocence.

I see no excuse for parents to bring their elementary school-aged kids to teenage level movies. Common Sense Media cautions about any kids any 10 seeing this movie but from my estimation that was the most significant demographic for this movie.

Here's what Jurassic Park author, Michael Crichton, wrote when asked whether young kids should see the original movie:

This is a parental decision. I would say, below six it’s an immediate ‘No.’ Above 8 or 9, it’s, ‘Why not?’ … If the parents restrict exposure, which a lot of parents also do, then my suggestion is, see the movie yourself and decide whether you want your kid to see it. But I think there is absolutely an issue about this picture, that it is not suitable for very young children, and my kid (age 4) is not going to see it, and she’s unhappy about that.

How To Setup a Managed Parental Control Account In OS X

The following information is based on OS X 10.10 Yosemite. If you are running an earlier version of OS the information might still useful but you may have to look in different settings.

OS X has four account types – Administrator, Standard, and Managed (with Parental Controls). The Administrator account is the most important.

Managed with Parental Controls: In an account managed by parental controls the administrator can place restrictions on: inappropriate Internet content, the amount of computer use, and access to applications, email, and iChat.

Parental Controls are great for managing how your kids use the Mac. This account can be made more restrictive that the Standard account. Parents can allow use of specific apps, printers, web sites etc. The important distinction between a Standard and Managed account is that the Managed account has restricts on the time, the use of applications and the Internet.

Create a new Managed account

The first step in setting up Parental Controls is to create a new Managed account. You can do this by launching the System Preferences application and then clicking Users & Groups. You will be taken to a preferences pane that looks something like this.

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You may have to click the lock icon in the lower left of the screen to make changes.

Click the + button in the lower left corner to bring up the new account dialog. Choose Managed with Parental Controls from the drop down and enter a name for the account. Enter a password and make sure to write it down and store it somewhere safe. You will also need to give it to your child.

Local OS X Yosemite accounts can use local passwords for authentication or can be linked to an iCloud account. Once linked, the user can login to the Mac using the same password they user for their iCloud account. If your kids are too young for an email account, skip this step.

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User names like “Khürt Williams” or “Khürt” are helpful but feel free to be creative. If you children are fans of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, perhaps “Sméagol” is a good choice (Ok, not really).

Click Create User and voilà, you have a new Managed account. To customize the account, clock the image icon and choose and image from the defaults or drag one from your hard drive on to the icon to change it. The next step is to add the Parental Controls to the account.

Parental Controls

It is best to have your kids sit with your while you do this so you can explain why you are making these choices.

Select the account to be managed and click Open Parental Controls....


Apple has provided some pre-configured applications controls based on age groups. For most people these pre-configured controls will do just fine. However, a parent can customize these based on a child maturity level. Click the arrow to show the list of applications and select the ones you want to give your child access to. Your child will be limited to running only those applications that you have explicitly selected.

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Parents can select from one of three choices in the Web tab. You can allow unrestricted access to website for older or more mature kids and apply a web filter to keep kids safe from adult web sites. For younger kids, parents can limit access to a specific set of web sites. With that option, children will not be able to visit any web site not explicitly allowed in that list.

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With this tab, a parent can limit a child's contact via email. By adding an email address to this list, OS X will only allow email exchanges between that address and your child email tool. NOTE: This only works with Apple's Mail application so it might be a good idea to prevent access (via the Apps tab) to any other email application and block access to web-based mail.

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Parents also have the option of receiving an email alert when their child receives or sends email to an unapproved email address.

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Time Limits

This is perhaps the most important setting in the Parental Controls preferences. We all know our kids spend too much time online or on the computer. We also know that the older kids needs access to the computer and to the web to complete homework assignments. So as Parents we need to balance homework computer time against hanging out online computer time. This is where you set that up. Spend some time to think about what's right for your family.

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This one is self-explanatory. Some kids can't be responsible with a webcam, especially teenage kids with a laptop. I don't let my kids change their computer password. I want to be able to see what they are up to. Logs can help with that.

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I want to be able to see what they are up to. Logs can help with that. OS X will keep a log of every web site your kids successfully visited as well as which ones you blocked but they attempted to visit. You'll know if your young teenage boy has hit puberty by his sudden interest in porn sites. You'll know if your child was using study time to hangout on Facebook or Twitter. Time, date and web site address are recorded in the log.

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In my house computers and the Internet are a privilege, not a right. I teach my kids safe computer and Internet habits but a Managed Account with Parental Controls provides me with a level of comfort that my rules are being followed.

Apple, Amazon and the FTC

Apple has added features to iOS to make it easier for parents to control their kids app and media purchases. Amazon in contrast if is fighting the FTC over adding these controls to their fire devices.

Why? Just think about where these companies are making their money. Apple from the devices themselves, Amazon from selling stuff. No wonder Amazon is fighting this, and Apple is just trying to make families want to be all Apple devices. Ben Brooks