Too much sexual content in films for kids
It's quite a mystery how parents manage that their children stay virgins until marriage since there are so many dangers that transform well-behaved girls into young indecent women. A probable reason for the parents' success is that they keep their kids away from even seemingly harmless kids movies like Disney's The Princess Diaries with Anne Hathaway. The film got the MPAA's G rating (as in "General", as in "being suitable for everyone, even the smallest kids"). But how naive are the censors!
According to a study conducted by the Dartmouth University, there's a higher risk for children that watch too many films containing "sexual content" (this term is quite vague because you can't tell what the Americans count as such in comparison to other countries. In the US, even passionate kissing is categorized as sexual content) to have sex earlier and generally engage in this activity with more partners. The danger of unprotected sex is higher as well, the authors conclude.
Granted, it's reasonable that the consumption of films that do not demonize sex but maybe even display it as something fun could benefit the motivation of the viewers to try it out themselves in order to make own experiences. However, the study works with films where there isn't really that much sex involved. It's really about the effect of "harmless" films just like the previously mentioned The Princess Diaries that, according to the study, contains 42 seconds of sexual content. In the European worldview, everything that can be seen in the film would be defined as "playfully romantic" at most and would probably not change the rating.
But this is not the only case. The study says that in 68% of the tested G rated films, there are sexual scenes that have consequences for a minor audience. Films with a PG rating that aim at an audience that is not yet quite in their teenage years, the number of critical films within the sample was even 82%.
Americans are prude when it comes to sexual content and the MPAA ratings are done by parents that are supposed to decide for other parents what they should and should not show their kids in younger years. The assumption that romantic comedies are supposedly responsible that adolescents have sex earlier, is debatable at best. Maybe the focus should be directed at the various reality programs on TV that surely have more influence on those issues.
The Princess Diaries (USA: G-Rated, Germany: FSK 0)
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