On censoring kids' TV and movie viewing

An acquaintance of mine once told me she didn’t believe in censoring her childrens movie or television watching. I never asked her why because I feared she would think I was judging her. She died a few months ago, but she raised 3 children who are all successful professionals in their chosen careers.

I would surely have never judged her choice or anyone else’s. What I would like to know from parents on the forum, is whether you think censoring children’s viewing habits is a good idea or not.
If you do not, I would be interested in hearing your reasons.

Again, I do not want to judge anyone. I don’t believe in any form of censorship but I have never had children and would not know how to defend myself if I was asked why I let them watch violent or prurient films.

All opinions are welcomed…


Keep in mind that censorship usually implies a government action, not something that parents do. Limiting what your child sees seems like a natural and necessary thing. Would you show a 6 year old Resevoir Dogs? It’s a bad idea (IMO) because the child cannot yet understand what he or she would be seeing and have no way to process it. It would just scare the child.

*Originally posted by Telemark *
**Keep in mind that censorship usually implies a government action, not something that parents do. Limiting what your child sees seems like a natural and necessary thing. Would you show a 6 year old Resevoir Dogs? It’s a bad idea (IMO) because the child cannot yet understand what he or she would be seeing and have no way to process it. It would just scare the child. **[/QU

But my friend told me she did not limit her kids viewing ability. She said her youngest child watched films that were , to my friend, scary in nature but that the child found them hilarious.

I still want to hear from parents who do not censor/limit their children’s TV/movie/music etc.

Depends on what exactly you mean by censoring. I never restricted my kids’ movie or television viewing to only those with a particular rating - only G movies or TV shows rated for their age, for example- which I know some people do. But I did limit what they saw based on my own evaluation of what was appropriate for my particular kids in terms of violence,sexual situations, plots , scariness etc. When I had to - which wasn’t often, because they rarely wanted to see something I thought was inappropriate. I don’t think you’ll find many parents who wouldn’t restrict a child’s viewing under any circumstances- parents who would allow a four year old to watch the Playboy channel or Oz, for example.

I’ve had this argument with my FIL. He says he raised 6 kids, never told them what they were or were not allowed to watch on TV, and they’re all fine. He doesn’t see why hubby and I restrict what our kids see. The most notable reason is, with cable TV, and just progression of what’s allowed on network (think NYPD Blue and ER), there’s a lot more potentially harmful stuff available on TV now than there was when hubby and siblings were growing up.

I don’t see what’s so bad about scary movies. Why do you think kids like roller coasters? They’re thrilling–scary yet harmless. The same is true of “thriller” movies.

I’ve always been fascinated by this idea that pictures on a TV screen, even images of violence and sex, can be “harmful” to kids. Could you please explain in a little more detail?

Mr2001, I will be happy to explain in detail. Of course, my objection is not all about imagery. NYPD Blue for instance, has a lot of harsh language. I’d let my 15 year old watch it (she does watch ER with me), but I don’t need to try to explain to a 9-year-old what “dickless pollack” means. But as far as the blood and gore and guts go, imagery can stick in a kids’ mind for a long, long time and when said kid has to wake me up at midnight, cuz she can’t get to sleep, cuz she keeps having visions of that corpse on the gurney coming to life and crawling into her bed. . ., well, maybe you get the picture. Then, of course, aside from the imagery and language, you have the situations. I’m not necessarily talking about sex, most of the time that’s no big deal. But child abuse, kidnapping, graphic murder, all manner of things that my kids will find out about in good time, but I’m in no hurry to introduce them to such things.

I’m much less restrictive about what they read, because their minds will not conjure up images that they can’t deal with, IMHO. But images, and situations, that are right in their faces, I just don’t think they need that. I think a lot of kids are in too much of a hurry to grow up, and watching anything they want on TV just fuels that. Of course it depends a lot on the age and the temperament of the child. YMMV.

My parents never censored anything I watched on television, or read. They had trust that I fully understood the difference between fantasy and reality. I suffered no ill effects.

I agree with ** norinew, ** in that the temperment of the child must be taken into consideration. Some children don’t necessarily grasp that what they’re seeing isn’t real. A child that is easily influenced, or shows a propensity toward violent behavior should be monitored more closely than a child who is somewhat more well adjusted.

Violence in the media has become the whipping boy for all of today’s social ills. (Personally, I think it has more to do with careless parenting, but that’s another thread.) The problem may lie with the lack of consequences for violence in the media; ie: in comedic violence, a guy may be hit in the face with a baseball bat, but all he does is moan and recovers almost immediately. This may leave some kids with the impression that hitting their friend with a baseball bat won’t hurt him all that much, and is somewhat funny.

In a study done on very young children, it was found that kindergarten-age children take what they see on the television for gospel. If a commercial says a toy is fun, or a cereal delicious, then it is. The study suggested that very young children may be the most susceptible to negative influences on television. If they see a kid sassing his mother, they’re likely to imitate the behavior. Unless corrected, the idea of TV as a social teacher becomes more ingrained.

Children naturally imitate what they see. It’s how they learn how to live and function in society, and learn our culture. Children watch their parents, and immitate their speech patterns, their manners, and how they react to situations. (You can see this in sons of abusive fathers, who are more likely to become abusers themselves.) In our busy world, as parents become less of an influence, something must take their place in children’s socialization. Sometimes, it’s the child’s peers, but as children become more sedentiary, it’s becoming the television.

Depends on the kid. My son at 7 would have been fine with scary movies. My 7 year old nephew would have nightmares for a week.

Actually, at least in my family, that varied by kid. When we were teenagers, my brother loved horror movies and never had a nightmare. When he read The Amityville Horror, however, he had nasty ones. I’m the opposite. I grew up reading Alfred Hitchcock’s wonderful collections of gruesome horror stories without a problem, but I had nightmares from a scene in Live and Let Die back when I was about 8 or 9 (my brother was also a big James Bond fan).

It’s interesting. Looking back, I don’t think my brothers and I had all that many restrictions on what we could see or watch. I vaguely remember my parents taking the family to a triple feature at the drive in when we were quite young which was Willard, The House That Dripped Blood and Rosemary’s Baby, but it was a drive in, so we didn’t disturb anyone else and I fell asleep around the beginning of the second feature. Certainly we didn’t suffer from any scars. If we did get in over our heads, we could talk about things with our parents. On the other hand, my mother didn’t read Lady Chatterly’s Lover until after she was married because she didn’t think it was appropriate for an unmarried woman.

Excuse me. I’m rambling and reflecting. I also don’t have kids nor do I plan on it, so this is probably none of my business. I suppose if my kid did ask, I’d ask my standard question, “Why?”, and act based upon his or her answer. I do think a lot of kids acquire a pretty good idea of what they can handle, even if it sometimes comes about after they watch some things they can’t.


I hear ya, norinew. A while ago, my fiance and I took his 8-year-old cousins to see “Evolution.” The movie wasn’t really inappropriate in terms of violence, but it had incredibly raunchy language. I spent the whole movie cringing, hoping that little Patrick wouldn’t ask me what a douchebag was.

I allow my son to watch Simpsons (most 'Christians" wouldn’t) and the Osbournes. He likes the animals.
These he finds funny.
He would probably not be interested in any sex scenes (I hope)
and I don’t want him watching violence.
I know scary stuff you look at stays with you forever and I don’t want him having nighmares.
Why look at scary or violent things if you don’t have to?
So I would censor violence on tv, but theres not much of it on Nick or Cartoonnetwork and thats what he watches (besides HGTV and Martha Stewart)

I have heard of a “censoring” DVD Player that is going to hit the market very soon. Shall I post about it here, or do y’all think it would be better to start its own thread?

The only movie I have said No to was “Jackass”, and that was primarily due to my refusal to put out any money towards such blatant stupidity.

But otherwise, LilMiss (aged 9) may watch whatever she wants. She watches NYPD Blue with me (I’m addicted), and I do answer questions she may have. She likes Crossing Jordan- because of it she has taken a few kids community ed classes on forensic science.

Scary movies? Neither of us like them, but would I stop her from seeing one? No. I remember being maybe 10-11 when Friday the 13th in 3-D came out. I had nightmares for almost a week. But I learned what I could handle and what not. How can she, if I protect her from it?

I would much rather SHE decide what she likes/doesn’t like.

I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy here as you took an 8-year old to a PG-13 movie. The ratings have a meaning.

Having said that, I wouldn’t put too much faith in the TV and movie ratings. They serve as a warning, but it is best to do some research. Before deciding whether my kids can see a movie, I check it out on Kids-in-mind. The link I’ve given is direct to the write-up on Evolution. That site gives a lot of detail about what the film contains that might be offensive to some.

Each parent can have different views on what is and isn’t acceptable for their kids to see. For example, I don’t give two hoots about the “bad language” on NYPD Blue as it is still incredibly mild. Any kid above the age of about 5 will hear worse most days at recess.

I also don’t share the American prudity about nudity. However, sexual situations are another matter. I don’t mind if my 9-year old happens to see a butt or nipple, but I really don’t want him to watch Wild Orchid-style sex scenes just yet.

Yeah, I know amarone, it was PG-13. And I asked the kids’ mom if it was okay for them to see a PG-13 movie. I just wasn’t expecting the language to be so gross. And while sites like the ones you linked to are helpful, the MPAA rating system is usually about as clear as mud.

Guilty as charged! I do supervice my children’s conduct and morals and examine materials for objectionable matter. I do so in my official capacity as father, supreme overlord of my family. My wife allows me to be that…

That being said, I’ve taken my boy to watch R rated films when he was 10 and I dont see him harmed by any of them. I object to their watching movies of stupid people like Dumb and Dumberer but i dont stop them if they insist. I tell them that certain movies will have consequenses like nightmares, waste of their money, loss of time, spankings but they generally do watch what they want. Ive warned my boy about “chick flicks” and he has taken to the programming quite nicely.

Daughter only watches scary movies on dvd at home. Screaming upsets the other theater goers. Boy is curious about porn and hentai. I dont think he’s seen any yet. Girl has and she got bored.

As always, I do explain to them that all movies arent real. Even the documetaries arent totally real. Its for entertainment only and maybe some philosophical fodder but you dont learn anything in the movies. The movie is based only on how much they paid for it, whether it was worth it or not.

Just to add to the discussion.

I think as long as you watch it with your kid, and can explain what’s going on in a way he/she can understand, it should all be good.

“Hey Dad, what’s he doing?”
“He’s f*cking her, son.”