What Are PG-13 Movies?

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is in charge of determining the suitable viewer age for a movie that is set for theatrical release. A "PG-13" rating means that there may be material in the movie inappropriate for children that are under 13 years of age. This rating requires parental guidance when the child intends to watch the movie.

Ratings Criteria

The MPAA rates the thematic and content suitability of movies for particular audiences based on prominent factors, including the language and topics featured in the story and the amount of sex, nudity, violence and drug use that is presented. A rating depends on the artistic and social qualities of the movie and how it is viewed in a complex and ever-changing society. An MPAA rating isn't decided or computed in a mathematical way -- its subjective nature is clearly based on society's norms, cultural practices and the general public's convictions about adult themes and topics. This means that the ratings criteria and the rating system can change as society and culture changes with them.

Rating a Movie as "PG-13"

According to the MPAA website, "PG-13" stands for "Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13." This rating tells parents that they have to decide whether or not to allow their children who are under 13 to watch the movie. If more than brief nudity is in the movie, a "PG-13" rating is required. However, this rating would mean that the nudity shown in the movie is not sexually oriented. Otherwise, the movie will either have an "R" or "NC-17" rating. A single use of a harsh, sexually derived word would also require at least a "PG-13" rating. However, using the word more than once would require an "R" rating.

Primary Differences Between "PG" and "PG-13"

Generally, a "PG" movie is considered to be a more child-friendly motion picture. A "PG-13" movie, on the other hand, has more elements that may be geared towards adult viewers. The degree and amount of violence, profanity, sensuality and sexual content found in the movie are crucial factors when the ratings board decides whether it requires a "PG" or a "PG-13" rating. A "PG-13" rating can also apply to a movie that could have been "PG," but the presence of drug use in the movie automatically put it in the "PG-13" category.

Other Ratings

"G" rated movies are approved for general audiences, which means they are family-friendly motion pictures without elements that are unfit for children. "R" movies are restricted, and viewers under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian at the theatre. No children under the age of 17 are allowed admission into the theatre if the movie is rated "NC-17."

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About the Author

Rianne Hill Soriano is a freelance artist/writer/educator. Her diverse work experiences include projects in the Philippines, Korea and United States. For more than six years she has written about films, travel, food, fashion, culture and other topics on websites including Yahoo!, Yehey! and Herword. She also co-wrote a book about Asian cinema.