Have movies become more violent over the years?
They certainly have. A 2013 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that violence in films has more than doubled since 1950, and gun violence in PG-13-rated films has more than tripled since 1985. The Harvard School of Public Health warned that "ratings creep" has allowed more violent and sexually explicit content into films. Even the standards for movie trailers has become more lenient, letting studios market R-rated films to PG-13 audiences.
The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) claims its ratings have simply evolved to accommodate changing audience and cultural standards. And, in fairness, it did release a more detailed ratings system called Check the Box designed to help parents make more informed movie choices for their kids.
Kids also have more access to violent movie clips and trailers than ever. "Red-band" trailers -- with the graphic scenes edited out of the general-audience trailers -- are easily available online with easy-to-beat age restrictions.
Bottom line? You'll need to dig deeper to find out how much violence a film contains. When your kids ask to see a movie, check out Common Sense's age ratings as well as our detailed information on the amount and type of violence it has. Read what other parents have to say too. If you're on the fence, watch the movie with your kid and talk about it afterward.