Films & music

What age should you let your child watch or play a ‘12’ rated film or game?

BBFC_12_Rating[1]This week my sons came home from primary school with a letter for parents and guardians which reminded us about the recommended ages that children should be before they use various social media and games. 

As well as referring to the 13 year old threshold for using facebook and Instagram they also felt they needed to remind parents that the games ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto’ had an 18 certificate. 

It’s funny how parenting creeps up on you.  It does not seem that long ago that I was a 13-14 year old trying to convince my mum and Dad that it was fine for me to watch a 15 rated video.  It was always just a coincidence that they would walk in during the swearing or naked-boob-bit. Suddenly I am faced with dealing with the same challenges that I thought so simple back then. 

When to watch

We have been having a bit of a debate in our house about when it is OK for our kids to watch 12 rated DVDs.  For some people reading this it might seem pretty straightforward and black and white: parents should stick to the guidelines suggested.

But I think it is a bit more tricky than that. 

When one of the most well-loved children’s books of all time, The Hobbit is released as a 12 film you can understand the frustration in a keen 10 year old reader.  And the films in the Harry Potter series start as PGs but then become 12s.  

A further complication is because the 12A designation (the ‘A’ rather confusingly standing for both ‘Advisory’ or ‘Accompanied) is only used for films at the cinema.  For example, the first Hobbit film was a 12A at the cinema but a 12 when released on DVD. This means the discretion that a parent is recommended to use when it comes to going to the cinema to see a 12A film is not formally available when it comes to watching a 12 rated DVD. Therefore a parent can have a certain ease of working within the guidance in deciding to take a child to a 12A at the cinema but have unease about allowing them to watch a 12 at home.

So,  I thought it would be good to get other people’s thoughts.  Should we simply follow the ratings given?  Or should we use other ways of assessing the suitability of a film or game? Be great to have votes and thoughts from anyone, whether parents or not!

5 thoughts on “What age should you let your child watch or play a ‘12’ rated film or game?”

  1. Hi – I entered “it’s common sense” in your poll. However I increasingly have a broader discussion with my child as to whether a given film/program/game is suitable. It isn’t just age-related, but should we feed ourselves with some of the material out there regardless of age? Personally, I question whether I should watch even some of the 15 rated films these days, and will encourage my children to exercise wisdom over what they watch and play even when above the guideline age


    1. Hi Jon – yes that’s a very good point. I have watched some 15s (like the film ‘Closer’) that I wished I had never seen because of the horrible content. On the other hand some 18s have been amazing. It’s not just about the rating – I guess as with the internet the best thing we can teach our kids is good judgement.


  2. I voted for ‘common sense’ but it’s not that simple. For our kids’ lone viewing we’ve tried to stick to what it says on the cover, acknowledging freely that they must work it out for themselves when in friends’ houses. I made an exception recently for ‘Band of Brothers’ because my 12 yr old had read the book – but then watched it with him which was good. And when we can watch with them the rating seems irrelevant – rather, does this feel right? Can we talk about it? / is it something I want to talk to my kids about? Years ago I read about research that encouraged me to think the sharing of it, talking about it – and the non-verbal reactions – is often more important than the content.


    1. Thanks Steve – that’s really true in my experience too. I guess this is why the 12A is quite helpful – because beige able to explain, discuss and share feelings about what you are watching does make a big difference.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s