R-Rated Movies: It’s Time to Lower the Age Limit

Naana McBrown, Staff Writer

Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to see an R-rated movie, but you were too young to buy the ticket on your own? How did you go about getting into the theater? Did you pick another movie? Have a parent come with you? Maybe you even resorted to sneaking in.

Teenagers aren’t allowed  into an R-rated movie unless they are seventeen  years old and have their ID with them. While there may be some logic as to this age requirement, the truth is, the age limit for R-rated movies should be lowered. In today’s  society, teens are already exposed to R-rated content. A Pew Internet Survey reported that 95% of U.S. young adults between the ages of 12 through 17 are online and, of whom, 80% have seen that type of content on their timeline at different points in their lives. Parents and adults feel like teenagers aren’t mature enough to see violent or sexual content, but teenagers aren’t surprised by the content at all.

By law teenagers can get their license at the age of sixteen. If we trust sixteen-year- olds behind the wheel of a car, they should be trusted to go into a theater and  watch an R-rated movie.  Also, theaters are already – in a way – classifying kids as young as eleven as adults, as this is the common age when people cease to pay the “child” price for a ticket and move into the more expensive “adult” option. So maybe eleven – fifteen is too young for a R-rated movie, but If a sixteen-year-old is being charged as an adult, she/he should have that decision on what movie ticket she/he wants to buy.

Whether parents give their child permission to see an R-rated film or not, children will end up finding a way to see the R-rated film. According to a Federal Trade Commision (FTC) undercover survey of 295 theaters, 46% of teenagers between the ages of 13-16 watch R-rated movies without their parents. Oftentimes, they resort to sneaking into the movie or asking a stranger to buy the ticket for them. In a 2014 survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health, 6,522 teens were asked if they had seen a rated-R movie in the past few years. Researchers chose 40 R-rated movies with the most extreme examples of graphic violence.  On average, 12.5 % had seen each movie.

A child’s maturity level should be the determining factor and not the age. If a child under seventeen can handle content that a seventeen-year-old can handle, then that child should be able to watch an R-rated movie. To provide a solution to both sides, the age limit should be lowered to at least sixteen. At that age, teens are learning to become  more independent and mature. They also have already been exposed to that type of content, so prohibiting them will only cause problems that the teens, their parents, and the theaters don’t need.