It may seem as if there’s been an influx of violent and otherwise inappropriate shows on TV these days. This can lead to many assumptions about television in general. But it shouldn’t keep you from seeking out the best cable TV deals and programming that are both good and child-friendly at the same time. One way to do that is to pay attention to the Television Parental Guidelines.
Television Parental Guideline Ratings
You see these ratings all the time, but you may not have ever taken the time to study what they mean. This happens a lot with parents of children who are coming into television watching age.
You suddenly realize the shows you know and love may not be appropriate for a child. There’s nothing like a cringe-worthy zombie execution occurring on screen to make you hyperaware that a young person is watching with you.
Audience – This letter or number combination shows which age group the program is suitable for.
Content – One or two letters that let you know that kind of material the program contains. It’s a differentiator, as many programs don’t include them.
- Y – Appropriate for all children.
- Y7 – Appropriate for older children, usually those 7-years-old and older.
- G – Appropriate for all audiences.
- PG – Appropriate, but with parental guidance. These shows have an added element that you may need to explain.
- 14 – Appropriate for children aged 14 and up.
- MA – Specifically for mature viewers and those aged 17 and up.
The content tags can further enlighten you on what the program may show.
- D – Indicates mature or suggestive dialogue.
- L – Indicates coarse or crude language, such as swear words.
- S – Indicates sexual situations, but it’s the audience tag above it that will clue you in to if it’s explicit or just suggestive.
- V – Violence comes in many forms. Once again, the audience tag will let you know how much or how little to expect.
- FV – Fantasy violence is a tag for children’s programming rated TV-Y7. It indicates violence, but usually of a cartoony or fantastical nature.
For example, you may see a show rated TV-PG with added comment codes of D, L, S. This means the show is appropriate for most audiences, but you may want to watch with a younger person. The reason for the parental guidance is because the program will have some suggestive dialogue, a curse word or two and a situation that hints at sex.
When in doubt, just pay attention at the beginning of the program. The icon showing the rating will appear in the top left of the screen. Some shows will even start with a full voiceover announcing the shows rating with the content warning.
Forewarned is Forearmed
Using the guidance ratings and other tools, you can make more informed decisions about the programs you allow your kids to. It will also let you know what programs you can feel comfortable watching in front of young people. You may notice from this there are many, many shows that are hugely popular while still being fitting for younger viewers.
The FCC has also required all TV’s, manufactured after January 1, 2000 that are 13 inches or larger, have a V-Chip installed that can actually block certain programming based on ratings. In all fairness, it’s true that many of today’s most popular shows are not appropriate for all audiences. However, there are still many shows that serve a satisfying story without a TV-MA rating. So you can rely on the V-Chip or simply choose programming for yourself and family that you feel is most appropriate.
Next time you’re searching your channel guide for something to watch with your child that won’t bore you to tears, look at those guidance ratings. They can help you find something that can appeal to you and your child. Keeping everybody entertained is always the goal of family television viewing. Don’t lose hope. Family dramas and comedies still exist. “Fun for all ages” is still a thing. You just have to pay attention.