The short answer is…
Keep in mind while reading this article that everything I say is just my opinion. If you disagree, then you are free to disagree.
This topic really comes down to whether or not parents should allow their kids to consume entertainment that contains violence, foul language, sex, drugs, etc. While I don’t blame parents who forbid their kids from watching R-rated movies and the like, I do not believe it’s necessary. In fact, I think it’s a waste of time, and even detrimental to their development.
If your kid is impressionable, then just simple being alive will influence them to do bad things. Kids are people, and people have good and bad tendencies naturally. The only way to shield a child from all the ugly in the world is to practically imprison them, and even then, it won’t work. Obviously you can’t imprison your child, and it would be evil to even try to. Kids are people, and people learn things through exposure to the world and through their own thought processes.
When I was either 8 or 9, I saw The Terminator for the first time. It frightened me. It made me believe that someone out there was going to build a robot to hunt me down. I had a hard time sleeping for a whole week. My siblings just simply laughed, and the family I was living with at the time didn’t comment about it at all. So, does this mean I was too young to watch the movie? No. Had someone explained to me that 1), robots like that can’t even be built yet, 2), it would be a huge waste of someone’s time and money to build a robot like that just for that purpose, and 3), nobody would want to kill a random 8-year-old anyway…., then I would have realized I had nothing to be afraid of. But that didn’t happen, and I still got over my fear just fine. The problem was never the R-rated movie itself.
For parents to just think, “Oh, that’s R-rated for nudity and violence, so can’t let the kids see that,” is just lazy. Theaters shouldn’t restrict unaccompanied minors under 17 from seeing R-rated movies either. Their rule should simply be not allowing any unaccompanied child under 13 from entering the theater, period. A simple movie can’t do any actual damage, unless it has screeching sounds or seizure-inducing flashing lights.
“But what if there’s violence?”
Saturday morning cartoons have violence. Comic books have violence. Video games certainly have violence. Kids are people, and most people inherently understand that violence is bad. If your kid doesn’t know that already, then teach them.
“But what if there’s a sex scene?”
Then teach your kid that it’s something adults do. Plain and simple. Every kid knows what sex is before they reach puberty anyway, and 99.99% of them find it just plain weird or disgusting. Pretending sex doesn’t exist by “skipping that part” or covering their eyes doesn’t teach them anything.
If something they see frightens them, they’ll run out of the room completely on their own. If it makes them vomit, then now they know to be cautious of that in the future, guaranteeing it will only ever happen once anyway.
Ratings and age restrictions should be reserved for only the highly impressionable, and they’re a tiny portion of the population, so in the long run, it’s a waste of time to be concerned with.