Recently, Gal and I saw the movie Avatar, and this got me thinking: what is the right age to let kids watch it, or any other movie?
Avatar is a very good movie. It ticked most of the boxes for me – it was visually stunning and for a visual person like me, watching it in 3D was an amazing experience. And the messages were very clear and very much in line with my philosophy about nature and spirituality.
I could not stop thinking of another amazing animated film I had watched with my kids and loved very much called FernGully: The Last Rainforest. Avatar was a magnificent replication of the messages in FernGully with a futuristic spin using technology that had not yet been invented in 1992.
When I went into the cinema with Gal, it was packed. To my surprise, there were many young kids there, as young as 3 years old. Apparently, their parents thought they were the right age to watch that movie. So I started to wonder about matching movies with the right age to watch them.
Although I had no problem watching FernGully with my kids at the age of 5, I was not sure about letting my 8-year-old daughter watch Avatar. The level of violence in the movie was above and beyond what I thought an 8-year-old kid should be exposed to.
The reason I was confused was that even in FernGully, the bad people did very bad and violent things, but I still did not have the feeling it was above and beyond what I wanted to expose my kids too. I wondered if the animation made it softer or maybe I am trapped in the belief that animated violence is not as bad as “live” violence.
Movie rating vs. the right age rating
Over time, I have noticed the official ratings of movies have not matched my own ratings. On TV, they show movies and rate them M (for mature audiences) and state that “The movie includes violence and coarse language”, but when the movie is animated, it is rated PG, even when it is very violent and exposes kids to messages beyond their capacity to understand.
Of course every movie has several layers of understanding, but the violence is very explicit and kids cannot ignore it. Unfortunately, movie classification doesn’t provide age rating for parents to use.
I have contemplated this for about two weeks. Obviously, my older kids did not share my feeling. They did not think Avatar was violent at all (Do I rest my case?), and if their friends watched it, that was age rating enough for them…
Gal thought Avatar was a visual celebration that Noff, our 8-year-old-very-visual-kid would enjoy very much and would not get a chance to watch in 3D in a few years (it will soon be available on DVD already and even on 3D Blu-ray, but the experience is just not the same as a big screen and professional sound).
As I tried to come up with a set philosophy, when I was meditating on this, I realized that over 10,000 parents regularly read this blog and their thoughts and ideas may help me decide the right age to watch Avatar.
So, I am asking for your opinion. Please answer the question below and share your reasons in a comment.
What should be the minimum age to watch Avatar?
Happy parenting and thanks for your help,