Q+A: Are Kids Watching Too Much TV?

What About Movie Ratings?

Q. Switching gears, what do you think of movie ratings?

A. They don't work, and parents don't trust them. The movie-rating system is more than 40 years old. It's not based in science or focused on protecting our kids. Plus, the system is fundamentally flawed because films are rated by the same industry that profits from the sale of tickets. We don't ask butchers to certify the safety of the meat they are selling. Our children's minds deserve the same protection as their bodies.

Q. Is there a better option?

A. We need to revamp the ratings system to make it more science-based. Today, a movie that portrays smoking -- which strongly influences children to smoke -- might get a PG or a G rating, while another movie gets an R rating because it has nudity, even though there's no evidence that seeing a naked person hurts a child. The new system will tell parents what is portrayed by the film and how it may affect kids.

Q. Any final thoughts?

A. Parents need to think of TV, video games, and movies as powerful environmental factors affecting their kids' health. They need to be as concerned about the media their children consume as they are about the air kids breathe or the water they drink. The government needs to commit more funding to studying its health effects. And we need to teach kids to use media critically, not just soak up whatever they see.

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