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Comics For My Kid: Tangent 1-Ratings

on Sunday, January 23 2011 and posted in Features

Comics for Kids is an ongoing series looking at being a parent of a comic reading child.  This Tangent looks at ratings and their place in our tools in guiding our children.

Yes, I know this is supposed to be a bi-weekly series. I get distracted and tangential so sometimes there will be random non-scheduled udpates.

On Friday, Greg Burgas wrote in his "What I Bought" Blog entry on CBR [1]:
"Personally, I think all ratings systems suck and should be abandoned – parents ought to be capable of determining what their children can and can't handle, and that's all kids need."
  I had to shake my head at concept of abolishing rating systems since "parents ought to be capable of determining" what's acceptable. I don't know whether Mr. Burgas is a parent or not, but he misses the boat on how useful a tool ratings can be.  On one level, he is absolutely correct, parents *should* read what's going into their kid's hands. Not only does it let us know and approve what content we're exposing to them, it also lets us foster conversations to bond with our children. But with that said, ratings help me, as a parent, to narrow down what I need to decide upon.

x-forcelegacyofvengeance_copyRatings as a guideline are very useful – there's what 40-50 new titles per week? When I'm running into the comic shop with my daughter, I don't have time and she doesn't have the patience to let me flip through 50 books to decide if the book is appropriate. But ratings let me sift quicker. She's a huge fan of the original New Mutants, so when she saw Wolfsbane was in X-Force (The Puppy dogs and Rainbows variant) she wanted it. Now I'm well-versed in comics so I could make the judgment call quickly, but an untrained parent might very well pick up that issue. The mature rating says "Despite the pretty puppies and rainbows, read me before your child does!"

Mr. Burgas's comment was made regarding the lastest issue of Avengers Academy. Marvel does rate this as an all-ages book, but when I started reading the series it was very clear to me this wasn't appropriate for my daughter largely on the basis of the sexual overtones of the book. The book will probably be long gone from comicdom's consciousness by the time I'd be willing to let her read it. A vigilant parent doesn't rely solely on ratings.

It works the other way too.   I'll look to movies as an example: Jurassic Park. Despite being rated R my daughter saw it at a very young age. My ex and I both discussed it at length before agreeing to let her see it. Our reasoning was as follows: 1) She understood Dinosaurs are no longer real; 2) she was already aware of animals and their inherent violent natures from various documentaries; 3) She was capable of understanding the difference between reality and the story.   Armed with those things she was allowed to watch it supervised and it's a film she greatly enjoyed.

So my rant in a nut shell: Ratings are a useful tool we shouldn't be beholden to. Allow your child's world to be expanded when it's appropriate and protect them when needed.

Bear with me – my promised part two of the series will come next week.

Written or Contributed by: DonnaMoore

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