When you head to a movie, do you know what you’re getting into? When you, or your child, buy music or a video game, do you know what to expect? I don’t mean knowing whether the reviews were good or bad, or whether you know which ridiculously overpaid actor will be starring in the show. I’m talking about what images and themes are going to be carefully woven into your mind.
With all of the media that constantly bombards us, there is just no way we can sufficiently pre-screen it all ourselves. Thankfully, there is a website that makes it much easier to get the low down on the latest movie or video game. PluggedIn.com is a super easy to use website that reviews movies, music, TV and video games for questionable content. The front page of each section shows the latest reviews for newly released media, but there is also a search option if you are looking for something in particular.
At our house, we primarily use Plugged In for movie reviews, given the ages of our children. Their movie reviews cover the following elements: spiritual content, sexual content, violent content, crude or profane language, drug and alcohol content and other negative elements. Each of these areas is carefully evaluated for anything that could fit in the realm of it’s heading. For instance, in the “Crude or Profane Language” section, it lists any curse words that are used, but also any words parents may deem as “inappropriate,” as we label them at our house. We don’t allow potty humor with our kiddos (or adults for that matter), so if a movie is teeming with that, we probably won’t be letting our kids watch it. It just doesn’t make sense to me to fill a 5-year-old’s mind with a vocabulary that they will get in trouble for using. In the “Sexual Content” section, it covers the obvious, but for children’s movies, the reviews even mention any sexual innuendos that are made.
The format of the reviews is super helpful because it allows you to evaluate movies based on the areas that are important to you. Not only do Jeff and I have standards for what kind of media we allow our kiddos to ingest, but we also have guidelines for ourselves. A movie that is rated ‘R’ due to violence is probably going to be more acceptable to us than a movie with an ‘R’ rating due to nudity or sex. Personally, I’m tired of being assaulted at the movies by some gratuitous sex scene that unexpectedly pops up out of nowhere.
The great thing about Plugged In is that the reviewer doesn’t draw conclusions for you. He simply provides the information crucial for you to make your own evaluations yourself. Plugged In is a division of a Christian organization, but again, it just educates readers on content, rather than pushing their own agenda.
Que Soapbox ———————
My intent is not to outline some mandate on what is acceptable for you or for your children, other than to say it is 100% your responsibility to purposefully be making those decisions. Let me encourage you to not just be a passive consumer and allow popular media to pollute your mind with whatever it is serving up that day. Make a conscious decision to decide what you will allow in. Especially for your children.
A few weeks ago, Fox News published a story about a new study released by Dartmouth University titled, “Greater Exposure to Sexual Content in Popular Movies Predicts Earlier Sexual Debut and Increased Risk Taking.” The study demonstrated that exposure to sexual content in movies definitely influences adolescents to have sex earlier, with more casual partners, as well as to participate in other risk taking activities.
What is troubling is that even if you are trying to be somewhat aware of the movies your children want to watch, you can’t just trust the rating system. Fox reports that researches found that “68 percent of G, 82 percent of PG, and 85 percent of PG-13 rated movies of the 684 movies included in the study contained sexual situations.” You have to know more than the rating of a movie to make an informed decision about it’s appropriateness for you and your family.
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So, check out plugged in the next time you or your kiddos head to a movie. I’m certain you’ll be glad you did. After all, knowledge is power, right? I think that’s the right saying…I’m a bit cliche deficient.