What can I do to protect my children from sex and violence on television?
We encourage you to be aware of and take control over the programs your children watch. You have several options for blocking unwanted material.
- First, if your cable service has a set-top box, the box probably contains a parental control feature on it that you can use to restrict access to certain channels or programs by using special codes. Alternatively, you may also ask your cable or video company about other ways to block certain channels. If you have any questions about how to use these devices or need to upgrade your equipment to include a parental control device, contact your cable company. Each company has different equipment and the company can best explain how to properly use it.
- Second, if your television is fairly new and has a screen 13 inches or larger, it probably has a “V-chip.” Instructions on how to use the V-chip should be included in the operating instructions for your television set. You can use the V-chip to block programs based on ratings developed by the television industry and approved by the Federal Communications Commission.
These ratings, also called “TV Parental Guidelines” are designed to identify some programs containing violence and sexual content. Not all programs are rated, however. Sports, news, commercials, promotions, and unedited movies with a Motion Picture Association of America rating that are aired on premium cable channels such as HBO are not required to have the ratings. Here are the different ratings used:
- TV-Y – This program is designed to be appropriate for all children.
- TV-Y7 – This program is designed for children age 7 and above. Some programs with extra levels of “fantasy” violence may be designated TV-Y7-FV.
- TV-G – This program is designed to be suitable for all ages.
- TV-PG – This program contains some material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. The program contains moderate violence (V), some sexual situations (S), infrequent coarse language (L), or some suggestive dialogue (D).
- TV-14 – This program contains some material that parents may find unsuitable for children under age 14. This program contains intense violence (V), intense sexual situations (S), strong coarse language (L), or intensely suggestive dialogue (D).
- TV-MA – This program is specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under age 17. This program contains graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S), or crude indecent language (L).
Get more information about parental controls from the FCC.
Obscene and Indecent Programming:
Generally, cable and video companies are free to decide what channels are available to their customers. We do not have the authority to tell a company to get rid of certain channels or programs.However, federal law places restrictions on the airing of “obscene” and “indecent” programs. Generally, companies cannot air “obscene” material at any time. “Indecent” material can only be aired during certain hours, generally late at night.Unresolved complaints about obscene or indecent programming should be directed to the FCC. Get more information on obscene and indecent programming, and learn how to file an indeceny complaint with the FCC.