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Parents Give Ratings Systems a Poor Grade

6/20/2011  

Parents appreciate having media rating systems to help them decide what is or isn’t appropriate for their children, but many feel the current rating systems are inaccurate and need improvement. In the study, “Parents’ Evaluation of Media Ratings a Decade After the Television Ratings Were Introduced,” in the July 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online June 20), three national studies examine what parents really think of current rating systems, how they use them, and what improvements they would make. When asked how they felt about the three major ratings systems (movie, video games and television), parents said they used movie ratings the most (48 percent), followed by video game ratings (34 percent) and television ratings (31 percent).

A majority of parents thought there should be a universal rating system for all media, including additional media types such as Web sites and games, music CDs and games on handheld devices. Parents would also like to see detailed content ratings and age-based ratings, yet in this national sample, they did not agree on the ages for which different content descriptors are appropriate. Study authors concluded that existing ratings do not cover all the areas parents want, are not completely accurate, and as a result, are not used regularly. Improvements in ratings are needed to make them beneficial for parents.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.