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

N ICAM often receives comments from parents about teen productions: sometimes because parents think a 12-rating is too low, sometimes because they think 16 is too high. NICAM therefore invited several complainants to talk about their findings.

What do these parents think is 'harmful' to their adolescent children? Why are they offended by this content? It appears that parents are disturbed most by the context in which transgressive behaviour is portrayed in teen films, and they expect to be able to protect their children from this.

The 3 most important insights:

  1. The moral context in which transgressive behaviour is depicted in films is especially problematic for parents: alcohol, drugs and sex are portrayed as essential to having a good time.
  2. The exposure to transgressive behaviour, such as alcohol- and drug abuse, is considered to be a danger to education: parents fear the negative influencing of their children. The parents believe that the frequent depiction of transgressive behaviour is characteristic for a society-wide blurring of moral standards.
  3. Although the parents realise they're unable to protect their children from everything, they want and expect to be able to protect them from negative influencing when they take them to the cinema.

What did we use these insights for?

These talks were grounds for thorough further research. Scientific literature review and large-scale consumer research has contributed to the fact that, as of 1 January 2020, Kijkwijzer has expanded its age categories for adolescents. Furthermore, this research contributed to the transformation of Kijkwijzer 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

Complainants who complained about Fissa (2016) and Dirty Grandpa (2016) took part in a group interview, organised by NICAM. In the interviews, it was discussed why they filed a complaint about these teenage films. Certain scenes were used to discuss themes such as alcohol- and drug abuse, (licentious) sex, coarse language and harmfulness vs. suitability.

Want to read more?

+ Early or late adolescence? Teen's development phase determines susceptibility to influence

Published: May 13 2020