Should I Let My Child Watch R-rated Movies?

kids watching movie

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R-rated movies are restricted for young children.

This doesn’t mean they are banned. They are simply not deemed as appropriate unless a parent or adult guardian decides they are okay.

Should you let your children watch R-rated movies? If so, when is the right age for this to happen?

Should I Let My Child Watch R-rated Movies?

No, you should not let your child watch R-rated movies. The MPAA puts a lot of thought and effort into determining ratings for movies. Those movies with R ratings are too intense for most children.

There are some exceptions, but the general rule should be no R-rated films until the child turns 17.

Why Are Some Movies Rated R?

kids watching movie

The MPAA has a set of guidelines it uses to determine a film’s rating. Movies that are rated G and PG are mostly suitable for children, with some exceptions.

A rating of PG-13 means a film hovers in that grey area between family-friendly and not for the faint of heart. Parents need to use strong discretion when deciding if their children should watch a film with a PG-13 rating.

What about R? An R-rating means that a child under 17 may not view the film without being in the company of an adult. R-rated films can have adult themes, graphic violence, sexual situations with nudity, extreme language and drug use.

Films must earn an R rating, which means, in most cases, one or more of these issues are inherent in the film.

It is not advisable to allow a child to watch an R-rated movie until they have shown sufficient maturity to understand some of the situations. They should be at least in their teenage years before an R-rated film is even considered.

There are some R-rated films that parents might take a chance on because they are not troubled by the type of adult content in the movie.

A good example of this is The Conjuring. This film has no nudity, no sexual situations, minimal hard language, no drug usage, and very little violence.

Using only these metrics, it should be rated PG. However, the movie was rated R due to “intense terror.” I found it terrifying. My 12-year-old was mostly bored.

Other R-rated films might be worth showing to children for their important subject matter. Schindler's List is an important film that has intense language, violence, and nudity.

Still, the subject matter might justify showing to a younger teen. I have not yet shown Schindler’s List to my children, but my plan is to allow them to watch it when my youngest turns 13.

Going Beyond the R Rating

An R-rating isn’t the most serious a film can receive. NC-17 is code for “no one 17 and under admitted.” An NC-17 film is one that the MPAA has deemed inappropriate for children under age 17.

Children are not permitted to watch NC-17 films even with adults present. The films that earn NC-17 ratings are ones that are considered far too adult to receive an R rating.

This rare rating seldom applies to movies that are mainstream. Some of the most well-known NC-17 films are Showgirls, Blue is the Warmest Color, and the Evil Dead. None of these films are appropriate for children.

Movies can sometimes be listed as unrated. These films are usually given that designation because they were not submitted to the MPAA for rating.

Sometimes, a film will be given a rating by the MPAA that the distribution or production company disagrees with, and they will instead release the film as unrated. All films that are unrated should be heavily investigated before being shown to children.

Occasionally, you may see a film with an X rating. X-rated films are mostly older films that were not re-rated when the NC-17 designation replaced X in 1990. These movies should never be shown to children of any age.

What if My Child Really Wants to Watch This Movie?

kids watching movie

If your child really wants to watch a movie, despite the objectionable content, you should let them.

Just kidding!

It doesn’t really matter how much the child wants to watch the movie. If it could do psychological harm, then it should be avoided.

On the other hand, there are some instances when your child can watch that R-rated movie they crave. My husband and I found that the best workaround is to wait until the movie is edited for television.

We use our DVR to record these shows that we know will have the most severe language, violence, and nudity removed.

This was how my children saw movies like The Matrix, Speed and John Wick.

It should be noted that a movie doesn’t have to star Keanu Reeves to be edited (but it doesn’t hurt).

Sadly, this doesn’t work for every film. For instance, my favorite movie is Fight Club. My husband got very excited when he found an edited-for-television version.

About 20 minutes into the movie, we were laughing at ourselves for thinking there was a way to make a movie like Fight Club family-friendly, even with heavy editing.

Luckily, we decided to pre-watch it before showing it to the children.

Are Some Kids Ready for R-Rated Movies Earlier Than Others?

We all know that child whose parents let them watch whatever they want from an early age.

I was that child.

I don’t remember ever having nightmares or being particularly damaged from seeing Re-Animator at age 10.

That said, I wouldn’t roll the dice on showing a movie with even a fraction of the violence and nudity of Re-animator to one of my children.

My husband and I decided on the lines that we would not cross when watching movies with our children, regardless of how mature our kids seem.

The first line is sexual nudity. There is a time and a place for that. In my opinion, the place is not my living room, and the time is not with my children.

The second line is the F-bomb. Some swearing is going to pop up on occasion. As my kids love to remind me, they hear far worse at school. However, we can limit the number of times they hear the F-word at home.

The third line is common sense. Sometimes, you just know when you know.

No matter how mature your children are, most R-rated movies should not be shown to your kids. Other than the very few examples of movies that have inexplicable R ratings, it’s best to stay away.

Key Takeaways

R-rated movies are not for children.

There are a few exceptions, but the rule should be to avoid R-rated films until your kids are old enough to watch on their own.

Do you agree with this? Would you let your children watch R-rated movies? Talk to us in the comments.

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