With an increasing number of TV channels and programs coming into our homes each day, it can be hard for parents to monitor what their children are watching. Many parents are concerned about their young children watching programs with content that's more suitable for older children or adults.
The television industry designed a TV ratings system to give parents more information about the content and age-appropriateness of TV programs. These ratings, called the TV Parental Guidelines, are modeled after the familiar movie ratings, which parents have known and valued for decades. They are designed to be easily recognizable and simple to use. The Guidelines apply to most television programs, including those directed specifically to young children. However, sports and news shows do not carry the Guidelines.
The Guidelines appear in the upper left corner of the TV screen at the beginning of TV shows, and often again after commercial breaks.
THE V-CHIP AND PARENTAL CONTROLS
The TV Parental Guidelines can be used in conjunction with the V-Chip — a device built into most television sets since 2000 — to allow parents to block out programs they don't want their children to see. The V-Chip electronically reads television program ratings and allows parents to block programs they believe are unsuitable for their children. Parental control technology in cable and satellite set-top boxes can also be used with the TV Parental Guidelines to block programs based on their rating.
TV RATINGS OVERSIGHT
The TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board is responsible for ensuring there is as much uniformity and consistency in applying the Parental Guidelines as possible and is comprised of experts from the television industry and public interest advocates. The Board also reviews complaints about specific program ratings to help ensure accuracy. Individuals can contact the Board via mail, phone or e-mail to voice complaints.