Watching movie sex and violence may desensitize parents: study
(Reuters Health) – Parents may get so accustomed to seeing sex and violence in movies and television that they end up lowering their standards for what kids are allowed to watch, a new report suggests.
In a new study, parents who watched several clips of movie violence in succession became desensitized over time, and they relaxed their standards for what they would allow their children to see.
In particular, the researchers point out, the violence in PG-13 movies has become more graphic over the last several decades.
“We released a study last November that showed a dramatic increase in violence and in particular gun violence in popular PG-13 movies over the past 10 years,” said lead author Daniel Romer of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
“There is now actually more gun violence in PG-13 than in R-rated movies,” he told Reuters Health by email.
The new study suggests that parents are now more willing to allow their children to watch these movies, he said.
“This is consistent with surveys done by the Kaiser Family Foundation showing that parents express less concern about both sex and violence in movies,” Romer said.
For the study, researchers asked 1,000 parents of pre-teens and teenagers to watch a series of movie clips one after another. For each clip, parents recorded the minimum age at which they would be comfortable allowing their child to view the movie.
The six movie clips, which ranged from 15 to 59 seconds, were arranged randomly for each parent viewer and came from popular PG-13 or R rated movies.
Violent scenes, usually involving guns, came from the films Collateral, Taken 2, Die Hard, Live Free or Die Harder and the Terminator series, while the sex scenes were taken from 8 Mile and Casino Royale.
At first, the parents rated the violent scenes and the sex scenes as appropriate for 17-year-olds, on average.
By the last clip in the series, parents deemed scenes of a similar level of violence and sex appropriate for 14-year-olds, according to results in Pediatrics.
They also reported more willingness to have their own child view the movie by
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