How We Rate and Review by Age: 8 Years

Behind the Common Sense Media ratings system

What's age appropriate for a 8-year-old?

The way our kids consume and create media profoundly affects their social, emotional, and physical development. That's why, when we make assessments about age appropriateness, we rely on developmental criteria from some of the nation's leading authorities to determine what content and activities are best suited for each age and stage. Below you will find the developmental guidelines we use in establishing our age ratings and recommendations. But even as we rely on experts, we know that all kids grow and mature differently. Our age-based reviews and ratings are a guide -- but ultimately, you're still the expert when it comes to your kids.

What's going on at age 8

Cognitive development: By 8, kids have fluent use of language and can use it to express their opinions. They have arrived at the "age of reason" and will solve problems on their own. They have the ability and desire to do things themselves. They can follow more complex storylines, and they begin to be able to understand that things aren't always black and white, right or wrong.

Social and emotional development: Eight-year-olds understand emotions enough to be able to mask them: They can pretend to like something or someone when they don't. But they also can be moody and dramatic when things don't work out according to their plans. Their peer relationships begin to have new significance as an awareness of social pecking orders and hierarchies really kicks in. This is the age of the "best friend," and kids will likely admire and even idolize older kids. At this age, children are proud of their of independence, but they're still likely to rely on adults in emotionally stressful circumstances.

Physical development: At 8, kids are developing more mastery of the physical activities they nurtured in earlier years (athletics, dance, gymnastics, etc.). Early puberty can also begin, bringing body consciousness along with it.

Technological/digital savviness: At this age, kids may be exploring digital worlds, but chances are they don't yet understand how their seemingly anonymous behavior can have a real effect on real people. They need to learn that anything they post can be copied, pasted, altered, and distributed to vast invisible audiences. They also need to understand that not everything they read online is true or respectful (like inappropriate comments on YouTube, for example). Teaching basic Internet literacy is key, especially when kids have access to cell phones with more features. Explain that the rules of the Internet apply to all cell phone texting. And any images or movies made should be respectful. Other items on the tech to-do list at this age: Talk about the basics of bullying. And, as gaming increasingly becomes part of kids' life, explain which games are age appropriate and why.

What's age appropriate at age 8

Educational value: By third grade, kids are really reading for pleasure. Books, movies, apps, and games that share a diversity of experiences are age appropriate, as is media that reinforces skills and promotes imagination.
Positive messages: Any media with anti-social or discriminatory behavior should show the consequences of those actions. Kids can appreciate differences, so media that shows the diversity of people and experiences in a positive light is age appropriate.
Positive role models: Discuss appropriate and inappropriate role model behavior by analyzing what media characters do. Focus on the positive, as kids this age are forming ideas about who they are and how they fit in. Since 8-year-olds are looking to older kids for examples, media that showcases aggressive, negative, or anti-social behavior isn't age appropriate unless there's a lesson involved. Characters who glamorize negative behavior aren't age appropriate.
Violence and scariness: At this age, kids might start seeking out scary content looking for thrills. They can deal with the beginnings of emotional conflict -- such as the loss of a pet or parents and divorce -- but scenes of anger, bullying, loyalty, and moral issues all require resolution. Realistic scary situations may be the most frightening. Though they might try to seem like big kids, 8-year-olds still need to be reassured that they're safe. On the tech side of things, any verbal or pictorial aggression (aka harassment or cyberbullying) is as harmful as physical aggression and isn't age appropriate. And any aggression that takes place online or via a cell phone should carry instant consequences -- whether it's characters or kids themselves who are involved.
Sexy stuff: With increased awareness of their bodies, sexualized situations may feel threatening to kids (that's why there are so many body part jokes in PG movies and in playground talk). By this age, many kids understand the "facts of life," and any disrespectful portrayal of girls as sexual objects or boys as sexual aggressors isn't age appropriate. Neither are nudity or simulated sex.
Language: Kids this age can handle mild profanity like "hell," "damn," "butt," and "pee" -- and they'll likely find plenty of humor in those words. Insults and put-downs are also commonplace. We call them out in our reviews because, while they're not inappropriate for this age, they also aren't necessarily what you want your kids thinking is OK.
Consumerism/commercialism: Start pointing out how ads make people want things that they don't need. Use commercials to play a game of sorts, pointing out how silly and unrealistic many ads' claims are. Now is also a good time to start having more in-depth conversations about food choices -- especially how and why what kids are eating at home may differ from what they see in commercials.
Drinking, drugs, and smoking: No smoking is appropriate. Studies show that kids who see smoking in movies are far more likely to start smoking than kids who don't. Likewise, scenes of drinking and drug use aren't appropriate for this age.
Online privacy and safety: Make sure that kids don't share passwords, click on ads, or fill out questionnaires. No sharing of any personal information is appropriate. Any pictures posted should be done with the knowledge of adults through safe channels with the highest privacy controls set.