To evaluate whether parents want smoking and alcohol use to be considered in movie ratings.
Data were collected as part of a longitudinal study of adolescent health behavior involving 2564 parent/child dyads from northern New England. Parents (n = 2401) were surveyed at wave 2 about movie ratings. Qualitative interviews were conducted with a subset of parents (n = 62) 15 months later.
Participants were surveyed by telephone.
Most parents (94.9%; n = 2279) were mothers, 52.5% were younger than 40 years, and 90.6% were white, and children were aged 9 to 15 years.
Main Outcome Measures
Whether cigarette and alcohol use should be included as movie ratings criteria and if movies with cigarette or alcohol use should be rated R.
About 52% (n = 1242) and 66% (n = 1579) of parents believed cigarette or alcohol use, respectively, should be used as movie ratings criteria; 28.9% (n = 693) supported an R rating for movies with smoking and 41.9% (n = 1003) supported R ratings for alcohol. In adjusted models, parents were more likely to support adding cigarette and alcohol use as ratings criteria if they believed the current ratings were not useful, they restricted their children from watching R-rated movies, and they were nondrinkers. Nonsmoking parents were more likely to support an R rating for smoking. Interviews revealed that parents may underestimate the impact of movie smoking and drinking.
Although a majority of parents supported including smoking or drinking in ratings criteria, fewer favored R ratings. Parental support could be a key factor in determining the impact of modifications to the Motion Picture Association of America rating system.