Have you ever noticed those movie ratings at the end of movie trailers? You know, the ones that tell you this documentary film about volunteering for a law office is rated G or that action film is rated R for adult audiences only? Movies that are released in theaters must have ratings accompanying them for one very specific reason: to inform parents of the film's content so they can determine whether or not it's something they can take their child to or allow them to see on their own.

That's it really. Going to the movies as a family isn't like staying at home and playing with doll houses. You don't have control of the images on the screen like you do the doll houses in your home. When going to the movies you're giving up the control you have over what your children are subjected to and you want to make sure that you don't take them to a movie that has a plot involving a violent bombing of a dental clinic in Whitby Ontario for instance, that's intended for adults only.

Movie ratings come into play to help you avoid such a scenario. In America movie ratings are the responsibility of the Motion Picture Association of America and they have five main movie rating categories. They are: G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17.

Movies that are rated G are family friendly movies, be they animated Disney films or documentaries about family dynamics, which children of all ages can view. PG rated films may have some content parents might not want to subject their children to view and thus the PG stands for "Parental Guidance." PG-13 films urge parents to be cautious because there might be material in the film not suitable to children under the age of 13. The R in R-rated movies stands for "Restricted" and films with an R rating are not supposed to be viewed by anyone under the age of 17 unless an adult is present. Finally, we have NC-17, which used to stand for "No Children Under 17 Admitted", and basically means that no one under the age of 17 is allowed to view an NC-17 movie, with or without adult accompaniment.

While those are the movie ratings for films shown in America every country has their own movie ratings system and they vary from country to country. For instance, in Canadian provinces except Quebec, the movie ratings are as follows: G, PG, 14A, 18A, and R.

Now that you know what movie ratings are and their purpose you can help them guide you when choosing which films you can or cannot take your children to see when you have some free time away from your job.

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