How to Understand the TV Ratings System

The Television Rating System, (also called TV Parental Guidelines), was created in 1996 as a simple way for parents to determine if TV programs were suitable for their children to watch. You can find these ratings in the top, left hand corner of your television screen when a program first starts. If you miss the beginning of a show and its corresponding rating, you can always look in your latest copy of TV GuideÃ?® to find the show’s rating. Or, you can check the description of the show and decide for yourself whether it’s fit for your kids to watch. If you’re not familiar with the meanings behind the letters and/or numbers you see, then they won’t mean much to you. That’s why it’s important to know how to understand the TV Ratings System.

TV ratings are shown by either letters, numbers, or a combination of both. The standard symbols are:

1. TV-Y (Young)
These programs are suitable for young children ages 2 – 6 to watch. You’ll see this rating on many cartoons. Example of a TV-Y rated show: “Sesame Street.”

2. TV-Y7 (Appropriate for young viewers who are at least 7 years old)
These shows contain light physical violence. Or, they contain scenes that show violence that’s performed in a funny way. Example of a TV-Y7 rated show: “Power Rangers.”

3. TV-Y7-FV (Appropriate for young viewers who are at least 7 years old)
This rating is basically the same as above with the addition of a “FV” warning. “FV” stands for
“Fantasy Violence.” The violence in the programs that fit into this category of the TV Ratings System contain a greater amount of violence. Example of a TV-Y7-FV rated show: “The Powerpuff Girls.”

4. TV-G (All General Audiences)
Shows that have a “TV-G” rating aren’t necessarily children’s shows. They simply contain no objectionable content. Examples of TV-G rated shows: “The Price Is Right”, “7th Heaven” and “American Idol.”

5. TV-PG (Parental Guidance Needed)
This rating applies to programs that are considered to be “Family TV.” Programs contain some mild violence, coarse language, and/or sexual situations. Examples of TV-PG rated shows include: “Malcolm in the Middle” and “My Wife and Kids.”

This rating is sometimes supplemented with other letter ratings. These letters and their meanings are:

V- Moderate Violence
S – Light Sexual Situations
L – Coarse Language
D- Suggestive or Explicit dialogue or subject matter)

6. TV-14 (Parental Guidance is Recommended for Kids Under Age 14)
This is a common TV rating that’s used for a wide range of shows. Most, but not all of the shows that fall under this TV rating are broadcast after ten o’clock in the evening. Examples of these shows: “The Tonight Show” and “Friends.”

This rating is sometimes supplemented with other letter ratings. These letters and their meanings are:

V- Fierce Violence
S – Sexual Situations
L – Coarse Language
D- Highly Suggestive Dialogue

6. TV-MA (Mature Audiences Only)
Viewers of these programs should be at least 17 years old. These shows contain raw violence,
sexual dialogue or sexually clear acts, and profanity. Examples of TV-MA rated shows include: “The Shield”and “South Park”.

This rating is sometimes supplemented with other letter ratings. These letters and their meanings are:

V – Highly Illustrative Violence
S – Sexually Explicit Situations
L – Strong Language/Profanity

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