kids-r-rated-moviesThe Motion Picture Association of America, Inc (MPAA) helped to create the rating system we use for movies back in 1966 to replace the Hays Code. Today, the Rating Board, which assigns ratings to movies, consists of eight to 13 members. These members all have parenting experience of some kind, so they have experience with children and what is appropriate for each age group.

Rated R movies are ones that are considered to contain adult material including hard language, intense violence, sexually-oriented nudity, and so on. According to the MPAA website, “Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures.” Before bringing your kids along to see a rated R movie, consider the following reasons for leaving the kids at home.

It’s hard to enjoy the movie

When watching movies that have raunchy humor, such as found in movies like Good Luck Chuck, which includes many sexual innuendos as well as graphic nudity, it’s hard to relax and just enjoy the movie knowing there are kids in the theater watching with you (whether your kids or someone else’s). It just makes you uncomfortable.

Your kids might get bored

For other more serious movies that are touching but have adult themes (Schindler’s List), you might run into another problem—kids running up and down the aisle. While the movie may be engaging to you, it’s going to over the heads of the kiddos, which leads to boredom and then to kids finding ways to entertain themselves till the movie is over. This is distracting to you as well as others in the theater who don’t want to be distracted by loud or active kids. By leaving the kids home, you can see the whole movie rather than having to pull them out of the theater to avoid aggravating the other theater-goers.

Your kids will be scared

For horror movies and scary movies, such as Sweeny Todd starring Johnny Depp, kids are just not mature enough to handle what’s on the screen. In 2006, a study was conducted by the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center. It found that while children under the age of 5 might not understand horror movies, they are still psychologically affected by them. Effects can include anxiety, phobias, sleep problems, aggression, and violence.

If it’s a movie you haven’t seen before, consider watching the movie before deciding whether it’s appropriate for your children. You also might want to wait till the movie is released on DVD. Watching the movie on a smaller screen, in the comfort of your own home, and with the lights on may make it less scary.

Babies will cry

When you go to the movie theater to watch a movie, you are entering a social contract with other movie-goers. That social contract says that you will do your best to make it an enjoyable experience and in return, other patrons will do their best to make it an enjoyable experience. This includes not talking loudly, not turning on mobile devices with bright screens, and silencing your phone. When you bring your darling infant to the movie theater, though he or she may be too young to be influenced negatively by the content, you’re breaking that social contract. No matter how soundly the babe is sleeping at the beginning of the movie, more than likely there will come a point when that baby wakes up and cries, ruining the movie for all other attendants.

If you’re considering bringing young children to the theater, put yourself in the shoes of the other movie-goers. How would you feel if you had paid a babysitter so you could have a rare night out with your sweetheart just to have the movie ruined by someone else’s crying child? If you can’t find a babysitter, instead of heading to the theater, consider putting the kids to bed and finding a movie on DirectTV or Netflix, where you can relax, enjoy your sweetheart kid-free.

Keeping your kids away may help prevent early drinking

A study, published in the May 2010 issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, was conducted in the New England area and involved 3,600 students that attended middle school. The researchers followed the kids over the course 13 to 24 months. Out of the group that said they weren’t allowed to watch R-rated movies, only 3 percent of them started drinking alcohol. For those that were allowed to watch R-rated movies “sometimes,” 19 percent started drinking. Finally, 25 percent of the group that was allowed to watch R-rated movies “all of the time” started drinking.

In this study, parenting style was taken into account, asking the participants how strict their parents are in general and what their parenting style is. Even with that taken into consideration, researchers found that exposure to R-rated movies was still linked to an increase in the likelihood of early drinking.

When it comes down to it, leave the kiddos at home when possible if you’re heading out to a movie in the theater. It will allow you to enjoy the movie more, have some special alone time with your sweetheart, and probably save you money (babysitters are often less expensive than the price of movie tickets for the kids).