• One Parent’s Perspective: Uncensored and “Not Rated”

    by  • November 10, 2015 • Misrated • 3 Comments

    scandal_NR

    Here’s how I know that the TV ratings system is a sham.

    Like most parents, I do my due diligence to try to protect my children from harmful things in life. When they were little, my wife I held their tiny hands when crossing a busy street, and reminded them to look both ways before running into traffic. We’ve buckled thousands of seat belts to keep my kids safe from an accident that I prayed would never happen. We put those silly covers on all our electrical outlets and cupboards. I have sprinted across the kitchen to catch a boiling pot from burning their scalp, and dove into a small river when one of them toppled in while reaching for a tadpole.  The list goes on, and everything we do is intended to guide them so they can grow to be independent, responsible decision-makers.

    toddlerBut then they become tweens and teens, and the dangers in the world become more difficult to explain – and to manage.

    - How do we tell our 9-year old that he can’t have a smartphone with full access to the Wild West of the internet, when “everybody else” has the latest and greatest I-phone?

    - How do we explain responsibility to my 12-year old as we put limits on her texting, when “everybody else” has no limits on their texting, or for that matter, on anything else?

    - How do we explain to my 15-year old that we don’t want her watching a TV-14 show that could have graphic violence or intimate sex scenes, when “everybody else” gets to watch those shows?

    Our family uses DISH satellite.  I am “that dad” who puts ratings restrictions on the family TV  hoping my kids are blocked from “accidentally” seeing the latest cutting-edge sex and violence on the current hot new show.  I have added a password for any show rated TV-PG or higher. This is very inconvenient to my wife and I, but working at the Parents Television Council has only confirmed what I already knew – that there are a lot of really graphic shows on TV that children should not be watching.  However, what I’ve also learned at this job – and what most parents don’t know, or choose to ignore — is that many shows are completely misrated.  So even if you do program your V-Chip, and monitor what your children can watch, it is still possible for some over-the-top sex scene, graphic violence,  or profanity, to get through…because it’s been rated perfectly OK for a 14-year old.

    Now, many like to say this kind of programming is providing me with an “opportunity” that can lead to a “conversation” with my child about “real life.”  Well, each to their own; but as a responsible parent  I feel my job is to talk to my kids about sex, drugs and violence on MY terms and when THEY are ready, not when some network executive decides they should.

    Like most responsible parents, I want my children to enjoy childhood as long as possible before being they are manipulated to believe that violent murders and torture, casual and irresponsible sex, adultery and prostitution, and constant teen drug use, are all everyday occurrences in our world.  And no matter how I remind my children about the “make-believe” of TV shows, it would be naive AND irresponsible for me to think that TV has no influence on a young child’s mind. Science agrees with me on this.

    But even as a loving parent, who is deeply concerned about what my children watch, it is impossible for me to watch every program or see everything they might be exposed to in advance. The entertainment industry claims they have set up tools to inform parents, and help parents can block the shows they do not want their children to see.

    However, the blocks comes crumbling down as the content rating system only works if the ratings are correct, which often they are not.

    THE “UNRATED” INCIDENT THE OTHER NIGHT.

    So…let’s pretend that the networks are extremely responsible,  not financially self-serving <cough cough>, and all their ratings are consistently accurate.

    How do they explain this “malfunction” in the rating system that happened recently in my very own living room?

    After eating dinner, hearing about school and the competitive soccer battles on the playground, and then putting my kids to sleep, I sat back to watch some TV.  I rolled my eyes at my wife as I saw that she had recorded ABC’s Scandal, which is normally rated TV-14.  She said she did not record it, and said maybe our 15-year old had. I know our daughter does not know our password, so I was a bit confused. I looked at the information for Scandal, and lo and behold, it was rated “Not Rated.” This means it does not get blocked…ever! And THAT means that my 9 year old and 12 year old might see Scandal scenes about the President’s daughter making sex tapes, violent shootings, or a vicious torture. The network got around my parenting, by rating a program as “Not Rated.”  So, even a TV-MA show that is “Not Rated” could be accidentally viewed by children. What a sham! Parents are told they have tools to blocks shows they do not want their kids to see…but clearly, it does not work.

    Now, IF the networks had no motive to leave off the rating, I would think it may be an error.  The networks, however, are highly motivated to NOT include a rating. They want as few obstacles as possible to block a show so they can bring in as many viewers as possible. I recall that I have also seen “Not Rated” on Castle and even the MTV Video Music Awards! This gives me little reason to believe the networks made an honest mistake.

    Most parents don’t know that these types of “oversights” occur. Some know, but feel helpless. Others say “So what?”  But whatever your parenting style, the entertainment industry cannot have it both ways. They cannot say that they have created tools so parents can protect their children from indecent content, and then blame parents when a child accidentally sees a show that was rated incorrectly, or not rated at all. This is why I strongly agree with the PTC that the Content Ratings System is a fraud and needs to be completely overhauled.

    I demand a change in the the content ratings system,  not as a PTC employee, but as a parent.

    ———————————————————————————————

    If you are a concerned parent, don’t just turn a blind eye.
    Join me and thousands of other parents. 

    Click here and sign the petition for TV Content Ratings  Reform.

    RR_SignPetition

     

     

    Share

    About

    Chris is the PTC's web administrator and very involved in communications within the PTC. He is happily married to a elementary school teacher and is a proud parent of three children. He also coaches club soccer in his free time.

    3 Responses to One Parent’s Perspective: Uncensored and “Not Rated”

    1. Sara
      November 10, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      I’ve also seen a lot of shows unrated on my cable box’s onscreen TV guide, including primetime shows (and the parental locks for the cable box rely on the ratings in that onscreen guide). One such unrated show is GSN’s “Skin Wars,” which you recently featured as a “Worst of the Week” cable show on your website.

    2. Zachary Doyle
      November 11, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      I realize this supposition flies in the face of your entire organization’s laughably outdated premise, but if you work to shield your children obsessively from every possible negative influence foisted upon them by the insidious dross of mass media, aren’t they going to be that much more vulnerable to it when they inevitably leave your sphere of influence?

      You say it’s your job to explain the nuances of adult behavior (sex, violence, etc.) to children on your terms, but I frankly disagree; you can’t possibly expect to fully control the rate at which your children are exposed to the adult world, especially as they begin to assert their own independence. Some aspects of parenting are fundamentally reactive.

      By all means, feel free to restrict television use within your family- frankly, there are better things for all of us to be doing- but don’t expect every unit of culture to be meticulously and accurately judged according your personal standards of morality. There’s just too much of it being produced too fast. The problem is exponentially greater with respect to the Internet.

      Functionally, you can choose between mollycoddling your kids and running the risk of leaving them unexposed and oversensitized to the excesses of modern culture- or turning them loose and running the risk of them, like the vast majority of their perfectly well-adjusted peers, becoming desensitized to violence and sex three or four years before you intended.

      If you don’t like the conclusions your children draw from what they see, talk to them. They’ll respect you more for it.

      And just to put the nail in the coffin- if family values couldn’t overcome market forces in 1995, do you really think they stand a chance in 2015?

      No. Obviously, no.

      • Paul Fitzpatrick
        November 13, 2015 at 11:18 am

        Zachary Doyle: The next time a program comes on the air that in your mind is racist, sexist or homophobic, I hope that you will feel the same way about it. :)

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *