Understanding TV Ratings

Help for Parents

The TV Parental Guideline Ratings System was modeled after movie ratings to give parents easy-to-follow warnings regarding the content and age-appropriateness of TV programs. Ratings apply to all programs except sports and news shows.

TV Ratings are broken down into two basic parts: Age-Appropriate Guidelines and Content Descriptors. Age-Appropriate Guidelines: Provide a guideline to the age-appropriateness of TV shows.

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.

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 developmental skills needed to distinguish between make-believe and reality. Themes and elements in this program may include mild fantasy violence 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.

Directed to Older Children-Fantasy Violence :: For those programs where fantasy violence may be more intense or more combative than in other programs in this category, such programs will be designated TV-Y7-FV.

General Audience :: Most parents would find this program suitable 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.

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).

Parents Strongly Cautioned :: This program contains some material that many 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).

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).

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Content Descriptors: Provide additional information about the content of TV shows: violence [V], fantasy violence [FV], sexual situations [S], coarse language [L] and suggestive dialogue [D].

Note: One or more letters may be added below the age-based audience label.

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