The TV ratings system in the U.S. was developed by the television industry to provide information to parents about the age-appropriateness and content of TV programs. These TV Parental Guidelines are modeled after the familiar movie ratings, which parents have known and valued for decades. They are easily recognizable and simple to use, and are applicable to most television programs, including those directed specifically to young children. The ratings appear at the beginning of TV shows and often after commercial breaks in the upper left corner of the television screen. However, sports and news shows do not carry ratings.
The TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board is the authority responsible for ensuring uniformity and consistency in applying the Parental. It is comprised of experts from the television industry and public interest advocates. The Board also reviews complaints about specific program ratings to help ensure accuracy. Individuals can voice complaints to the board through mail, phone or e-mail.
The following ratings help parent to apply discretion over viewing television programs.
TV-Y – All Children
This program is designed to be appropriate for all children. Whether animated or live-action, the themes and elements in this program are specifically designed for a very young audience, including children from ages 2 – 6. This program is not expected to frighten younger children.
TV-Y7 – Directed to Older Children
This program is designed for children age 7 and above. It may be more appropriate for children who have acquired the developmental skills needed to distinguish between make-believe and reality. Themes and elements in this program may include mild fantasy violence or comedic violence, or may frighten children under the age of 7. Therefore, parents may wish to consider the suitability of this program for their very young children. For those programs where fantasy violence may be more intense or more combative than other programs in this category, such programs will be designated TV-Y7-FV.
TV-G – General Audience.
Most parents would find this program suitable for all ages. This rating does not signify a program designed specifically for children. However, most parents may let younger children watch this program unattended. It does not contain violence, strong language and sexual dialogue or situations.
TV-PG – Parental Guidance Suggested
This program contains material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. Many parents may want to watch it with their younger children. The theme itself may call for parental guidance and/or the program contains one or more of the following: moderate violence (V), some sexual situations (S), infrequent coarse language (L), or some suggestive dialogue (D).
TV-14 – Parents Strongly Cautioned
This program contains some material that many parents would find unsuitable for children less than 14 years of age. Parents are strongly urged to exercise greater care in monitoring this program and are cautioned against letting children under the age of 14 watches unattended. This program contains one or more of the following: intense violence (V), intense sexual situations (S), strong coarse language (L), or intensely suggestive dialogue (D).
TV-MA – Mature Audience Only
This program is specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17. This program contains one or more of the following: graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S), or crude indecent language (L).