Help! PG-13 Rated Movies - How Do You Know What's Appropriate For Your Kids?

Thankfully, we have some helpful tips from our iVoices, our real mom contributors, who share their own "horror" stories stemming from seeing movies as a kid that were way beyond their years.


My kids are years away from being able to see a movie with a PG-13 rating, but a few of our iVoices, our real mom contributors who share videos on the issues that matter most to them, are in the thick of it.  They have teens and tweens.  So what do they do? How do they know when a movie with a PG-13 rating, like the highly anticipated summer release of The Dark Knight Rises, is appropriate for their kids?

iVoice Jenny Ingram, of the blog, has three kids, including a child who will be turning the big "13" in two weeks.  "My oldest has seen a few PG-13 movies," she told me.  "Our 'strategy' is if it’s PG 13, my husband and/or I like to see it first."

Another great resource that Jenny uses and we at iVillage rely on as well: Common Sense Media, which gives age-appropriate ratings for every movie. “Just the other day my son asked to see a movie.  I went to Common Sense Media and compared it to another PG-13 (similar action theme) that I had seen. I was able to make an educated decision and my boy went to the movie with a friend,” shared Jenny.

For more, watch our segment on Today where I talked about summer movies for kids, tweens and teens.

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Jenny said she remembers seeing a movie when she was a kid (Poltergiest) which she was not ready for.  "I had years of issues with dreams and not being able to be alone," said Jenny.  "Actually, I was never alone overnight anywhere (except my dorm room) until only a few years ago. The mind is powerful."

iVoice Beth Engelman of can totally relate. She remembers when she six or seven, her parents took her to a PG movie that was too "sophisticated" for her "concrete mind." "What resulted was years of night terrors, waking up my sister in the middle of the night (night after night) so she could bring me to my parents' room (she eventually got fed up and moved into a storage closet on the other side of the house)," said Beth.

The takeaway, from Beth and Jenny's stories, is that in addition to thinking about sex, violence and language in PG-13 movies, as parents we need to look at the subject matter as well.  Can your child process the information?

Plus, we now have to deal with peer pressure – from parents.  "My son is always telling me what movie everyone else gets to watch or he’s invited on play dates to watch stuff that I wouldn’t allow," said iVoice Jenny Isenman of the blog,  "Over time, I’ve started to give in... I allow superhero action style but not the sexual comedy oriented stuff.  I know I’m a sell out, huh?"  No Jenny, you are no sell out. Just a mom trying to navigate through some tough PG-13 waters.

Beth’s advice? "When in doubt, skip the movie. It’s not worth it."  I'll try to remember that when my girls become tweens and teens!

Kelly Wallace, a mom of two girls, is Executive Producer of iVoices on iVillage and Chief Correspondent of iVillage.

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