Harry Potter: “Adult Media” according to Ofcom and the BBC

An “update” from Ofcom landed in my Inbox yesterday that has me a little worried, as it’s pushing a report by “ParentPort”, of which they’re a member as well as other media organisations such as the BBC. The headline is “Revealed: How parents control children’s access to adult media” with the lead-in stating “of those parents surveyed whose children watch films at home, 40% had allowed their children to watch a film classified above their age” and that this “reveals the challenges and pressures parents face when it comes to keeping the media their children see age-appropriate.

Shock horror! Near half of kids are watching inappropriate adult content!

But hold on a second – we do not have the actual survey results or know exactly what questions were asked. Do they really mean adult content, I.e. films rated R18? Probably not, but they’ve still put it in an attention grabbing headline.

My eldest is 10, but all three of my kids have seen all of the Harry Potter series of films. All but the first three films are rated 12 or 12A, so by ParentPort’s definition this is somehow “revealing” that I’m facing pressures “keeping the media they see age-appropriate”. I don’t think I am, because (In line with BBFC guidance!) I saw the films with them at the cinema.

Actually, I mostly saw it at the cinema with them because I wanted to see it too. I’d have had no problems with them going to watch it on their own and I suspect many parents adopt the same view.

I am not sure if this is poor headline writing by someone at Parent Port or if they are trying to push some agenda, but I’m sure this will be seized upon negatively by some who want to campaign for their own brand of control and censorship.

In terms of my own approach, I don’t let the kids watch/play just anything. They’ve been allowed to play some of the Grand Theft Auto games only under rather close supervision, because they are permitted to do the driving around but not the storyline missions. They’re completely uninterested in sex, but they lack the appropriate knowledge to put some of the plot and dialogue in context and it’s understanding the context that’s my main concern with any sex-related media, rather than wanting to keep them away from sex completely.

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