Understanding TV Ratings in regards to Parental Guidance

tv ratings

If you are a TV fanatic, one that gets glued to the screen till the day takes its break, you should have seen some labels appear in the upper left corner of the screen at the beginning of TV shows, and often again after commercial breaks. These are called TV ratings and content labels, a system that gives parents more information about the content and age-appropriateness of TV programs.

With TV channels and programs being numerous, it is hard for parents to monitor what their children are watching; that is how these ratings come in to help. Whereas they are designed to be easily recognizable and simple to use, not everyone is familiar with them.

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What to know about TV Ratings

Typical TV Ratings indicate the appropriate audience meant to watch the show or movie, as well as the content label which indicates a show may contain violence, sex, adult language, or suggestive dialogue. These apply to most television programs and the rating is voluntarily done by broadcasters and program producers.

News and sports are exempt from the TV ratings system. In addition, some categories of programming, such as religious and home shopping programs, do not typically carry a rating.

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The Ratings Categories

  • TV-Y: All Children

Such a 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

  • TV-Y7: Children age 7 and above

Such a 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.

  • TV-G: 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.

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  • TV-PG: Parental Guidance Recommended

Programs rated TV-PG contain material that parents or guardians may find inappropriate for younger children.

  • TV-14: Not suitable for children under 14 years of age

Such a 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.

  • TV-MA: Mature Audience Only

Such a program is specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17. This program may contain crude indecent language, explicit sexual activity, or graphic violence.

Content labels added to the rating to identify the show’s content:

These are letters added to the basic rating to let parents know what a show may contain.

Content LabelProgram Content
SSexual situations
LCoarse language
DSuggestive dialogue
FVFantasy Violence


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