This week my sons came home from primary school with a letter for parents and guardians which reminded us about the recommended ages that children should be before they use various social media and games.

As well as referring to the 13 year old threshold for using facebook and Instagram they also felt they needed to remind parents that the games ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto’ had an 18 certificate.

It’s funny how parenting creeps up on you.  It does not seem that long ago that I was a 13-14 year old trying to convince my mum and Dad that it was fine for me to watch a 15 rated video.  It was always just a coincidence that they would walk in during the swearing or naked-boob-bit. Suddenly I am faced with dealing with the same challenges that I thought so simple back then.

When to watch

We have been having a bit of a debate in our house about when it is OK for our kids to watch 12 rated DVDs.  For some people reading this it might seem pretty straightforward and black and white: parents should stick to the guidelines suggested.

But I think it is a bit more tricky than that.

When one of the most well-loved children’s books of all time, The Hobbit is released as a 12 film you can understand the frustration in a keen 10 year old reader.  And the films in the Harry Potter series start as PGs but then become 12s.

A further complication is because the 12A designation (the ‘A’ rather confusingly standing for both ‘Advisory’ or ‘Accompanied‘) is only used for films at the cinema.  For example, the first Hobbit film was a 12A at the cinema but a 12 when released on DVD. This means the discretion that a parent is recommended to use when it comes to going to the cinema to see a 12A film is not formally available when it comes to watching a 12 rated DVD. Therefore a parent can have a certain ease of working within the guidance in deciding to take a child to a 12A at the cinema but have unease about allowing them to watch a 12 at home.

So,  I thought it would be good to get other people’s thoughts.  Should we simply follow the ratings given?  Or should we use other ways of assessing the suitability of a film or game? Be great to have votes and thoughts from anyone, whether parents or not!

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