When it comes to entertainment, so much of it isn’t appropriate for kids, or designed for families to watch together.
We think the entertainment industry can do better to serve families in 2020, and here are our top three suggestions:
1) Stop Distributing and Marketing Explicit Material to Kids
Entertainment giants should resolve to stop marketing explicit content to children and teens with programs like HBO’s Euphoria, Hulu’s PEN15, Netflix’s Sex Education, Big Mouth, 13 Reasons Why and others. These shows are graphic, and can potentially be harmful to children who watch them.
Likewise, entertainment companies should cease distribution of content that sexualizes children. Specifically, Netflix must do better in this regard; its cartoon Big Mouth grotesquely sexualizes children going through puberty; Sex Education features high school aged characters engaged in explicit depictions of sex and nudity; and the film Desire includes a scene of a nine year old girl bringing herself to orgasm.
Hollywood should stop using youth-targeted, youth-cast programming to romanticize or glorify violence, drug abuse, risky sexual behavior, and profanity.
2) Improve Content Ratings Systems
Just last year, the Federal Communications Commission publicly confirmed that the TV Content Ratings System is not adequately serving the needs of parents and families and recommended that Congress step up to change the system.
Our own research found that there is substantially more profanity and violence in youth-rated shows now than ten years ago, but that increase has not changed the age-based content ratings the networks apply.
“Hollywood tells parents that the content ratings are the best line of defense between children and inappropriate content. But our new research completely upends that reasoning. Within the last decade, TV content rated as appropriate for children has become much more violent, and much more profane. Scenes with decapitation and dismemberment, and dialogue with words like asshole, bitch, bastard, dick, piss and prick, receive the same content moniker – PG – as Shrek, Finding Dory and the Lego Movie. Simply put, parents cannot possibly rely on a TV content rating system that labels increasingly graphic content as appropriate for children,” said PTC President Tim Winter.
We believe that content ratings systems for media of all types should be accurate, reliable, and transparent in order to serve the needs of parents and families. Congress and the entertainment industry have a role to play in ensuring that the content ratings systems are working for families.
3) Allow Filtering and Improve Parental Controls on Streaming Services
Streaming services have come a long way since their formation, but they still have a long way to go to be perfect solutions for families.
Ultimately, parents should have control over the content streaming into their homes with filtering technology that allows them to skip past unwanted adult, explicit material. Content that would be unwatchable by families with young children could be made watchable with technology that is already available. We urge streamers to employ this technology on their platforms.
Streamers should also ensure their parental controls are robust and available to subscribers. For instance, Disney+ is a nearly safe streaming platform compared to others, but there are no parental controls available yet for parents who do not want their children to have access to PG-13 or TV-14-rated content. Disney can and should immediately fix this.
Hollywood needs to be held accountable for the products that it produces. We know that Hollywood can embrace change when it wants to and we hope it will change to better serve our children in 2020.