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What Age can I take my Kids to the Cinema?

14 June 2023

What age is appropriate to take your kids to the cinema? The answer, it seems, depends on a variety of factors. Some of the things to consider include the film's content, the age of your kids, and your parenting style. Here are 5 ways that age appropriateness can come into play when deciding whether or not to take your kids to the cinema.

The rating of the movie

The film’s rating is the first place to start when considering taking your kids. Movie ratings are set by the British Board of Film Classification, based on the amount of “adult” content within the film, such as swearing, nudity and violence. The lowest rating, U, for Universal, means a film is suitable for all ages. PG - or Parental Guidance - movies are usually fine for slightly older kids but may not be okay for the littlest ones. Above this is 12A, where the film is recommended for children over the age of 12, but younger children are allowed in if they’re accompanied by an adult, so it is left up to parents’ discretion. The ratings 15 and 18 mean only people over those ages can buy tickets and enter the screening, so these are definitely not suitable for kids. 

The content of the film

Websites such as The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) feature Parents’ Guides for movies, where users detail the amount of content which may be unsuited to children, such as frightening scenes, violence and language. If you think your child might be upset by the type of content included in a film, it's probably best to wait until they're a bit older. You could also wait until the movie is available at home, where you can skip through bits or stop if it seems to be too much for your little ones.

The age and maturity of your kids

The age of your children will be a major factor in deciding whether or not to take them to the cinema. Some cinemas have special screenings which are suited to parents with babies, where it won’t matter if your little one starts crying or you have to feed them. If you know your children have trouble sitting still and staying quiet for a period of time, the cinema may not be the best place for them.

Your parenting style

Your parenting philosophy will also play a role in deciding whether or not to take your kids to the cinema. If you're the type of parent who likes to shelter your kids from the outside world, you're probably not going to want to take them to see a movie with mature content. On the other hand, if you're a bit more lenient, you might be okay with taking them to see the odd 12A film. It's a good idea to research the movie beforehand to see if it's something you're comfortable with.

The movie's subject matter

Finally, you should consider the movie's subject, as some topics, for example war or terrorism, are unlikely to be appropriate for kids. Many movies are released that are specifically aimed at children, such as Disney-Pixar animated movies. If you're unsure whether a particular movie is suitable for all the family, you can always check out reviews from other parents or look for ratings from movie review websites like IMDb. You can also get an idea from the time of day the movie is being shown - generally, films unsuitable for kids will have additional showings at night. Children’s blockbusters are often released at the start of the school holidays, to keep them entertained.

There is no definitive answer to the question of what age is appropriate to take your kids to the cinema. It is a personal choice, depending on several factors, including the film's content, your children's age, and your parenting style. If you're unsure whether a movie is suitable for your kids, it's always a good idea to do some research beforehand.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

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