According to Rentrak movie research firm, more movies have been rated PG-13 than any other rating every year since 2008 have been PG-13 movies. The category has consistently grown each year as the PG and R category slowly shrink. In 1999, 35 percent of top movies were rated PG-13. Last year, 47 percent were PG-13 and only one film was rated G.
But for many parents, the PG-13 rating is too broad. Movie studios draw limited audiences for G and PG films, with kids wanting to see the hottest action films, such as PG-13 rated “Guardians of Galaxy.” R-rated films have pushed the edge of their rating too, deleting just enough content to be appropriate for teens.
The new study comes amid fresh criticism that Hollywood has neglected family-friendly movies. Last year, Romer published a study that showed the amount of gun violence in PG-13 has has tripled since 1985 and in 2012 the category had more gun violence than R-rated films.
In a 2013 study, researchers found that children ages 3 to 5 whose parents read to them from an electronic book had lower reading comprehension than children whose parents used traditional books. Part of the reason, they said, was that parents and children using an electronic device spent more time focusing on the device itself than on the story (a conclusion shared by at least two other studies).
“Parents were literally putting their hands over the kids’ hands and saying, ‘Wait, don’t press the button yet. Finish this up first,’ ” said Dr. Julia Parish-Morris, a developmental psychologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the lead author of the 2013 study that was conducted at Temple University. Parents who used conventional books were more likely to engage in what education researchers call “dialogic reading,” the sort of back-and-forth discussion of the story and its relation to the child’s life that research has shown are key to a child’s linguistic development.
Complicating matters is that fewer and fewer children’s e-books can strictly be described as books, say researchers. As technology evolves, publishers are adding bells and whistles that encourage detours.
“What we’re really after in reading to our children is behavior that sparks a conversation,” said Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple and co-author of the 2013 study. “But if that book has things that disrupt the conversation, like a game plopped right in the middle of the story, then it’s not offering you the same advantages as an old-fashioned book.”
Producers Todd and Jedd Wider generously took time to answer my questions about their documentary, “Mentor,” the story of two teenagers who committed suicide following relentless bullying. The film, which received Honorable Mention for Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival this past weekend, will be shown this week at the Austin Film Festival:
Sunday, October 26 at 12:00pm @ Rollins Theatre
Thursday, October 30 at 7:00pm @ IMAX Theatre
How did you first hear of the problems in Mentor?
We read about the problems several years ago as we were researching an idea to examine the concept of bystander versus upstander behavior.
Was it difficult to get the cooperation of the families?
No, they were very willing to help and wanted to share their stories.
What is the status of the lawsuit?
The Mohat lawsuit was settled, the Vidovic lawsuit is on appeal.
If you could have interviewed the principal or school counselor, what would you have asked?
All school representatives refused to speak with us. We would have asked one simple question: why?
If you could have interviewed the bullies, what would you have asked?
This film really is about the victims and the devastation that bullying can bring to individual families and the community at large.
What makes kids into bullies?
We feel that at this moment in time, with the rise of internet and social media, bullying is increasingly easier because it is more anonymous and impulse control is reduced to simply deciding to click a button on your computer. The anonymity has made the bullying more vicious because one can seemingly bully with almost no ramification. Look at what happened after Robin Williams tragic death with the amount of hateful tweets that his daughter received. In the past, when we grew up, you had to look someone in the eye if you bullied them. Now, you do not. The internet has essentially created a generation of cowards. As to why kids do it? One root cause has always bothered us which is the choice to pick on the outsider. You rarely see the captain of the football team or the head of the cheerleading squad getting bullied. It happens, but it is more rare. Usually it is a child that is somehow branded an outsider–a person that dresses a bit differently, or perhaps is smarter, or speaks differently, or thinks about things differently. There is a real tragedy here because we are a nation built from diversity. It was the diversity of all of the people that came here and brought with them different ideas and skills that helped build this nation. We should be celebrating diversity, not denigrating it.
Did the school take any steps in suicide prevention education and support?
You should ask the school this. We would argue not nearly enough was done.
What can schools do to be more effective? Are there any communities that have responded more effectively?
We feel that schools and parents need to teach kindness and empathy to children. One excellent program that helps kids learn basic civics and decency is Facing History and Ourselves which is available in many school around the country and internationally. If your school doesn’t offer this program or a similar program, ask your school administrators to bring it to your district.
The latest in Disney’s animated Tinkerbell series adds Ginnifer Goodwin to the cast. Coming in March of 2015, it explores the ancient myth of a mysterious creature whose distant roar sparks the curiosity of Tinker Bell’s friend Fawn, an animal fairy who’s not afraid to break the rules to rescue the NeverBeast before time runs out. The fairies meet Gruff who is a massive creature and the subject of an ancient Pixie Hollow myth. Hidden in a dark lair on the fringes of the fairies’ beloved home, Gruff is discovered by curious and empathetic animal fairy Fawn, who sees something special in his glowing green eyes. His penchant for stacking rocks mystifies Fawn and her friends—but Gruff’s true purpose is the real surprise.
It also features the voices of Mae Whitman (Tinker Bell), Megan Hilty (Rosetta), Lucy Liu (Silvermist), Raven Symone (Iridessa), Anjelica Huston (Queen Clarion) and is directed by Steve Loter (“Kim Possible”) and produced by Makul Wigert (“Secret of the Wings”).
Does PG-13 Mean Anything Anymore? The Washington Post has an article about a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Parental Desensitization to Violence and Sex in Movies," with some disturbing conclusions about parents' ability to make good decisions about the impact some media may have on their children. This is not
Is E-Reading to Kids the Same as Analog Reading? The New York Times asks, Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time?
In a 2013 study, researchers found that children ages 3 to 5 whose parents read to them from an electronic book had lower reading comprehension than children whose parents used traditional books. Part of th
Interview: Todd and Jedd Wider about the Bullying Documentary "Mentor" Producers Todd and Jedd Wider generously took time to answer my questions about their documentary, "Mentor," the story of two teenagers who committed suicide following relentless bullying. The film, which received Honorable Mention for Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival th
Clip: Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ApzHJhZz2JQ" frameborder="0"]
The latest in Disney's animated Tinkerbell series adds Ginnifer Goodwin to the cast. Coming in March of 2015, it explores the ancient myth of a mysterious creature whose distant roar sparks the curiosity
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