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Sunday, January 29, 2006

"Family-friendly"

It has come to my attention that a certain TV channel positions itself as a "family" channel while it often shows theatrical PG-13 movies in its regular line-up. Now I'm not saying this as a moral crusader for "family values," but did I miss a shift in what's considered "family-friendly" and what's not?

When I last checked, G meant the film was OK for all ages to see, PG was OK for children under 13 and PG-13 was OK for children 13-years-old and up. Sure, age is not the 100% connection to maturity level, but it's a decent ballpark estimate for growing children. So what does it mean when something that could be construed as "family-friendly" for families with young (read: 13 and under) children has content that isn't really appropriate for them?

I remember when my mother had some concern about my older sister seeing a movie rated PG-13 called Ferris Bueller's Day Off. My mom wasn't throwing a big stink about it; it was just a concern. Sure, some things in the movie weren't appropriate for an 11-year-old (like profanity), but these things are a part of life. My mother wasn't trying to prevent my sister from being exposed to the curse words said in the movie; she just wanted to make sure my sister knew what's appropriate and what's not in most social settings.

So it's strange to me when I see PG-13 movies be considered family-friendly these days. Did I miss this shift just as how I missed the shift in drink cup sizes and pizza sizes? Somehow Small became Medium, Medium became Large and Large became Extra Large and somehow PG-13 movies became equal with PG. Maybe the target audience for this channel is families with teenagers, but the term "family" is incredibly vague. Just like a lot of things in life, a label is subject to many different interpretations.

What baffles me is when I see parents go incredibly out of their way to prevent their children from being exposed to things like sex, violence, drugs and curse words. While I don't think parents should be hands-off with what their kids are watching/reading/hearing, parents have got to understand that their kids are gonna find about the "dirty" things in life whether they like it or not. We don't live in sanitized bubbles, so why do some harbor the delusion that we do?

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