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Top tips on film classification in the UK

Created by Charlotte in Education



Nearly everyone recognises and understands the familiar British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) symbols.  They denote the suitability of films, decease DVDs and some video games for different age groups.  Along with advice as to what a particular film contains, medic they help parents make informed choices about what they and their children watch.

 

That’s all well and good in the physical world, for visits to the cinema or for buying a DVD or Blu-ray.  But what about watching films online?  What information is there to help guide grandparents when they and children in their care are making choices about what to watch on video-on-demand platforms like Netflix, LoveFilm or Sainsbury’s Entertainment?

 

Independent research carried out for the BBFC in 2011 highlighted a clear demand from families for a trusted guide to digital content.  82% said that they prefer to download video works if they carry a BBFC rating.

 

So since 2008, the BBFC and the home entertainment industry have been working in partnership to bring trusted BBFC symbols and content advice to films and other audio visual material being offered online.  Many video-on-demand platforms such as BT Vision, Talk Talk, Netflix, iTunes, Sainsbury’s Entertainment and Blinkbox are working with us to ensure that material they are providing online comes with a BBFC age rating and content advice to empower those making decisions about what children watch while in their care.

 

To date, the BBFC has classified over 200,000 items of content ranging from full length feature films to music videos for distribution online.  Although this is small in comparison with the vast amount of material available on the internet, it provides grandparents with reassurance in relation to some of the most popular content, and the number of platforms and content providers using BBFC ratings online is growing.

 

So what can grandparents do to better inform themselves and protect their grandchildren, especially when watching films online? Here are some easy top tips for making informed viewing choices:

 

1. Choose a video-on-demand platform which carries BBFC ratings.  There’s no better way of ensuring children are watching age appropriate material. You’ll find a list of all the platforms licensed to use BBFC age ratings at: http://www.bbfc.co.uk/node/423878

 

2. If in doubt, check the BBFC’s website (www.bbfc.co.uk) for further information about individual films. Every film which comes out in the UK has BBFCinsight – detailed information, which describes in detail why a film received a particular age rating. You can also use Find Any Film as a reliable source for finding legal video-on-demand platforms showing the film you’d like to see. Find Any Film also carries BBFC age ratings. http://www.findanyfilm.com/

 

3. Get to grips with all the BBFC age ratings. You can find a guide to our age ratings at: http://www.bbfc.co.uk/what-classification. Here you can remind yourself how the ratings system works. A PG is suitable for children aged around eight or older and 12A means the BBFC thinks the film is suitable for children aged 12 and over, but that younger children can see the film if accompanied by an adult who thinks the film is suitable for that particular child. Grandparents can use BBFCinsight to make decisions about the suitability of PG and 12A rated films for their grandchildren.

 

4. Learn about the newest BBFC age rating category.

12 and 12A are the newest BBFC age ratings and some adults who didn’t grow up with them aren’t quite sure what they mean. At the cinema you’ll see the 12A rating, while on a DVD or a digital download you will only ever see the 12 rating. You know your family and your grandchildren best, and each child is different, but it is worth bearing in mind that when we rate a film 12 or 12A this means we think it is suitable for 12 year olds.

 

5. Remember that some films are rated U or PG because they contain no material that is unsuitable at that category, but they might not necessarily be a children’s film. The film GONE WITH THE WIND (PG) is a good example. This classic Hollywood film is rated PG but is very much aimed at adults. The BBFCinsight for the film reads: Contains mild violence and dated discriminatory terms.

 

6. Grandparents will know children develop at different speeds and react differently to things they watch – some may love horror films, others may be scared by quite mild material. BBFC age ratings offer a basic idea of the appropriate audience for a film, and BBFCinsight gives you the information to chose what is likely to work for your family. Upsetting things might not be strictly an age rating issue, but families tell us they like to know if a film will contain themes like bereavement or divorce. BBFCinsight provides grandparents with this information as well as more detail about why the film got the age rating it did.

 

7. Set up access controls on any device that children might use to stream or download films while in your care. Most platforms that are licensed to use BBFC age ratings for their films will also allow you to set your access controls in line with BBFC age ratings. So you can decide if you want films rated PG, 12A, 15 or 18 to be password protected. You can also contact your Internet Service Provider if you’re unsure how to set up access controls on your computer or tablet.

 

8. Download the BBFC free App for your iPhone or Android phone. The app  offers age ratings and BBFCinsight content information on individual films and videos, including those classified for distribution online. The BBFC App saves the content information every time you use the app where you have wifi or mobile internet reception. This means you can check for film ratings even if you’re at the cinema or another place without mobile signal or a wifi connection. Remember to log into the app before each trip to the cinema to ensure the information is up to date.

 

9. Sign up for monthly email newsletters from the BBFC. These include recent age rating decisions for upcoming releases and updates about other information it publishes for grandparents and families.

 

10. Contact the BBFC about any issue, no matter how specific, if you are at all concerned by what you have seen in a BBFC-classified film. The BBFC is there to help you make informed choices to protect your children and ensure you have a happy family viewing experience.

 

11. Finally start them young – the BBFC’s children’s website www.cbbfc.co.uk offers children as young as 7 or 8 a wealth of information, facts, tips and games which allow them to learn about age ratings and think carefully about their own viewing. They can rate trailers themselves, read about why they aren’t allowed to watch some films and find out about the latest releases that might be suitable for them. The site also offers grandparents a chance to learn about how films are rated in the cinema and online alongside grandchildren, helping everyone make the best, most informed decisions. For older children, especially those studying film or media at school, our main website carries loads of information, timelines and case studies which cover the history of the BBFC and some of our most famous decisions.

 

 

By the British Board of Film Classification

 

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