Monthly Activity and Quiz:

Check out the monthly quizzes and games on our web site. These interactive tools are easy to download and reproduce for use in classrooms or at home.



Get MediaWise: Watch what your kids watch

Home | Press Center | Store | Donate  

Mediawise Newsletter

Vol. 7: This Issue

Dissecting TV Ratings

In 1997, the TV industry began using a voluntary TV ratings system designed to give parents more information about the content and age-appropriateness of TV shows. These ratings are called TV Parental Guidelines. As the name suggests, these ratings are only "guidelines." Program producers or the networks decide what the rating will be and thus ratings vary from show to show and network to network. NBC, for example, does not use the content labels.

Audience - Indicates the audience for which a television program is appropriate: Y, Y7, G, PG, 14, MA.

The Content Label - Indicates shows containing higher levels of violence, sex, adult language, or suggestive language.

TV Parental Guidelines may have one or more letters added to the basic rating to let parents know when a show contains higher levels of violence, sex, adult language, or suggestive dialogue:

V - violence
S - sexual situations
L - coarse or crude indecent language
D - suggestive dialogue (usually means talk about sex)
FV - fantasy violence

TV-Y   All Children  This program is designed to be appropriate for all children. Whether animated or live action, the themes and elements in this program are specifically designed for a very young audience, including children from ages 2-6. This program is not expected to frighten younger children. What you need to know: Not all TV-Y shows are violence-free. Some shows with cartoon violence are rated TV-Y, such as the "Road Runner" cartoons. There is no content rating to let you know if a TV-Y show contains violence.

TV-Y7   Directed to Older Children  This program is designed for children age 7 and above. It may be more appropriate for children who have acquired the development skills needed to distinguish between make-believe and reality. Themes and elements in this program may include mild fantasy or comedic violence, or may frighten children under the age of 7. Therefore, parents may wish to consider the suitability of this program for their very young children. What you need to know: TV-Y7 shows that contain a lot of fantasy violence are supposed to be labeled with the FV rating. But even some TV-Y7 shows without the FV label may contain fantasy or comedic violence that could be of concern to some parents, although it is usually much milder than in those shows with the FV rating.

TV-Y7-FV  Directed to Older Children - Fantasy Violence  For those programs where fantasy violence may be more intense or more combative than other programs in the TV-Y7 category, such programs will be designated TV-Y7-FV.What you need to know: A TV-Y7-FV rating indicates a program that may contain some or all of the following characteristics: violence as a prevalent feature of the program; fighting presented in an exciting-even thrilling-way; villains and superheros valued for their combat abilities; violent acts glorified; and violence depicted as an acceptable and effective solution to a problem. Fantasy violence may be part of an animated cartoon, a live-action show, or a program that combines both animation and live action.

TV-G  General Audience  Most parents would find this program appropriate for all ages. Although this rating does not signify a program designed specifically for children, most parents may let younger children watch this program unattended. It contains little or no violence, no strong language, and little or no sexual dialogue or situations.What you need to know: Most TV-G shows don't contain any sex, violence, or adult language at all. Those that do have such content are usually mild. TV-G shows do not list content ratings.

TV-PG  Parental Guidance Suggested  This program contains material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. Many parents may want to watch it with their younger children. The theme itself may call for parental guidance and/or the program contains one or more of the following: moderate violence (V), some sexual situations (S), infrequent coarse language (L), or some suggestive dialogue (D).What you need to know: Many TV-PG shows do contain moderate levels of sexual dialogue or violence, and not all of them are labeled with the content ratings. TV-PG shows with higher levels of sex, violence, or adult language are usually marked with content labels.

TV-14  Parents Strongly Cautioned  This program contains some material that parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age. Parents are strongly urged to exercise greater care in monitoring this program and are cautioned against letting children under the age of 14 watch unattended. This program contains one or more of the following: intense violence (V), intense sexual situations (S), strong coarse language (L), or intensely suggestive dialogue (D). What you need to know: Most TV-14 shows contain sex, violence, and/or adult language. Not all of those shows are labeled with the content descriptors. TV-14 shows with the highest levels of sex, violence and/or adult language are usually labeled with the content ratings. A TV-14 rating without content labels may also indicate a program with a mature theme.

TV-MA  Mature Audience Only   This program is specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17. This program contains one or more of the following: graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S), or crude indecent language (L). What you need to know: Few shows are labeled TV-MA.

In the News

Before television came to the South Pacific nation of Fiji, "going thin" was a worry in a culture which admired a robust, nicely rounded body. Researchers say girls now want to look like TV stars.

Study Finds TV Alters Girls' View of Body

Television came to the island of Fiji in 1995. The girls of Fiji are now watching the girls of "Melrose Place" and the result has been dramatic. In just 38 months, and with only one channel, a television-free culture that defined becoming full-figured as desirable has become a television culture where big is not beautiful.

"The acute and constant bombardment of certain images in the media are apparently quite influential in how teens experience their bodies," says Anne Becker, head of research at the Harvard Eating Disorders Center and assistant professor of medical anthropology at Harvard Medical School. Becker investigated shifts in body image and eating practices in Fiji for three years. Before 1995, Becker said there was little talk of dieting in Fiji. The year TV was introduced, only 3 percent of girls reported they vomited to control their weight. Three years later, 15 percent reported the behavior and 69 percent of the girls said they had been on a diet at some point in their lives. One girl in the study said teen-agers on television are "slim and very tall" and "we want our bodies to become like that... so we try to lose a lot of weight."

"They look to television characters as role models," said Becker. Fiji has only one channel which broadcasts programs from the United States, Britain, and Australia. Favorite programs include: "Melrose Place," "ER" and "Xena: Warrior Princess."

Story compiled from Associated Press, New York Times, Boston Globe

Books Make Great Gifts

Give your nephew, grandchild, neighbor or favorite teacher one of the Institute's acclaimed children's books - and stay away from shopping malls all at the same time!

Box Head BoyTM   Ever wonder what would happen to someone who watches too much television? Instead of becoming a couch potato, nine year old Denny turns into a box head boy. $14.95

Clover's SecretTM   Shy Clover and outgoing Micky seem like opposites but they become good friends and flying buddies in the imaginary village of Woobie. In a dramatic discovery, Micky learns that Clover's home is troubled by violence. $14.95

Monster BoyTM   Hot headed Buster meets a monster, and matches it shout for shout and stomp for stomp until his temper tantrum turns him into a monster, too! $14.95

Easy to order - call our toll-free number (888.672.5437) or mail your order to our address on our Order Form.

Help Us Make An Impact

Join supporters of the Institute who are taking an active role in doing something about the effects of media on our children, families, and communities.

Your tax-deductible gift makes it possible for the Institute to continue educating the public about wise media use. Your gift may also qualify for matching funds from your employer. Many companies match contributions to non-profit organizations such as the National Institute on Media and the Family.

All you have to do is send your contribution to the Institute with the name of your employer. Please call us toll-free at 888-672-5437 or send a check to the National Institute on Media and the Family, 606 24th Ave. S., Suite 606, Minneapolis, MN 55455.

As a thank you, the Institute is offering a special gift for donors who pledge $50 or more. You will receive a deluxe edition of the 1999 Video and Computer Game Report Card including the KidsScoreTM 1999 Holiday Buying Guide. Available after 11/30/99.



Home | SiteMap | Contact

606 24th Avenue South, Suite 606 | Minneapolis, MN 55454
Toll Free (888) 672-5437 or (612) 672-5437


Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Webmaster