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My 12-year-old is begging to see a PG-13 movie. Should I let her go?

Topics: Screen Time

It depends on you, your kid, and the movie. Just because the MPAA has given a movie a PG-13 rating doesn't necessarily mean it's inappropriate for your 12-year-old. Check out the movie trailer, read detailed reviews (such as ours), talk to other parents, and consider what kind of content your kid will be exposed to.

Lots of PG-13 movies are pretty violent. In fact, a study in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that the amount of gun violence in PG-13 movies has more than tripled since the rating was introduced in 1985. The effects of media violence are difficult to measure, but most studies show that overexposure is bad for kids.

Young teens may be able to handle depictions of nongraphic violence, but all violence still should show consequences. Scenes of torture and gratuitous violence aren't age-appropriate. Think about what you feel comfortable with your kids seeing and what they can handle. Some parents are OK with some language and violence, but, for example, sex or nudity is where they draw the line.

Kids always want to push boundaries. It's OK to push back, and, in the end, you'll need to stand firm in your decision. Offer alternatives, such as renting or streaming other movies that are similar to the ones they want to see. (Check our movie recommendations for ideas.)

If they do see the movie, discuss it. Talking about scenes can help put them in context and provide a little more perspective. In the process, you'll be sharing your values, and your messages will come through.

Common Sense Media

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