Parents call for nuanced age classification for adolescents

12 14 16 18

B ecause parents and educators are the end users of the Kijkwijzer system, NICAM values their needs and wishes. What do parents of teens think about Kijkwijzer's age classifications? And how do they feel about regulation of these teen-age categories?

Published on: December 12 2022

Consumer research shows that parents would like to see more nuance in the current age categories. Parents believe that they are responsible for the media eduaction of their adolescent but, at the same time, they would like more advice and background information to make conscious decisions. After all, no two 16-year-olds are ever the same.

The 4 most important insights:

  1. Parents think there is more nuance to the development of teenagers than the two Kijkwijzer ages '12' and '16'. Especially the '16' classification is viewed as a catch-all that is too broad for their child's specific situation. If they were to make their own classifications, they would keep 12 and 16 but they would also add a 14- and 18-category.
  2. Parents want to find their own way in protecting their adolescent children from potentially negative influences of risk behaviour in film. For example, some parents indicate that heavy themes can be watched by younger children, as long as an adult watches along.
  3. If parents apply an age rating to audiovisual content themselves, they take into account what the context of any portrayed potential risk behaviour is. For example, if a film contains harmful imagery that is realistic, they think the age rating should be higher than if there is a humourous context. Parents almost always agree about very violent, scary or pornographic content: this should only be for 18 years and older.
  4. Although parents believe that they are responsible for the media eduaction of their children, some indicate that they would like more tools for this. Apart from a justification for the applied age rating and an extra pictogram about theme/subject matter, they would like more guidelines.

What did we use these insights for?

This consumer research contributed to Kijkwijzer's expansion of the (teen) age categories to 12, 14, 16 and 18 years old. The new classifications can provide parents with information that is more in line with their teenagers' experience. Furthermore, Kijkwijzer will be turning into a tool: instead of a cautionary role, Kijkwijzer wants to play an informative and participatory role in the lives of children, adolescents and parents.

About this research

First, NICAM organised group interviews with 20 parents in total. Following the results of this research, a survey was distributed among 141 parents. The questions in the interviews and in the survey related to Kijkwijzer's age classifications and applying age ratings to specific teen films.

Want to read more?

+ Complainants find context for sex and drugs in teen films to be most problematic

+ NICAM expands Kijkwijzer system to seven age categories

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