NCTA — The Internet & Television Association

Why TV Ratings Are So Important to Parents

Why TV Ratings Are So Important to Parents

TV Parental Guidelines

Television has always played an influential part in children's lives and that’s true now more than ever, as families grapple with a COVID-19 pandemic that has altered normal everyday life and caused millions of children to spend more time at home and more hours consuming TV. What children see and hear on a TV show can leave an impact on them, and parents rely on having good tools to help them make the best viewing choices for their families. Thankfully, the TV Parental Guidelines, also known as the TV ratings system, is available for families to use in determining whether a particular program is age appropriate for their children. And the good news is that a recent survey has found that the vast majority of parents continue to find the TV ratings to be helpful, especially over the past year. 

The findings of the latest survey confirm parents’ ongoing high levels of satisfaction with the TV ratings. The survey found that 80% of parents reported having a favorable opinion of the system, up from 76% in 2018, the highest level ever recorded in a TV ratings survey. Moreover, 95% of parents are satisfied with the accuracy of ratings for TV shows overall. In addition, 89% of parents find the TV ratings system to be helpful, which is also the highest figure ever recorded for TV ratings. 

“The results of this study indicate that parents continue to depend on the TV ratings system as a source of information about the content and age-appropriateness of TV programs, especially as their children are consuming more TV programming during the pandemic,” said Michael Powell, chairman of the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board and NCTA President and CEO. 

Other highlights from the survey include:

• Children are spending more time watching TV shows (64%), movies (61%), and
videos shared online (61%) than they were before the pandemic.
• 90% of parents understand the TV ratings system.
• More than three in four parents (77%) report using the TV ratings often or sometimes.
• Nearly nine in 10 parents (88%) are aware that the TV ratings provide guidance based on
a child’s age.

The survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates, has been a part of the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board's ongoing tracking of parental awareness, usage, and feelings toward TV ratings since 2011. 

Powell further remarked, “This study underscores the continued value that the TV Parental Guidelines bring to parents who are looking to make more informed decisions about what programming their kids are watching on television.”

Learn more about the survey results here

The TV Parental Guidelines, created in 1996 by NCTA, the Motion Picture Association, and the National Association of Broadcasters in consultation with parents from all over the country, is a voluntary system of guidelines that offers parents information to help them make informed decisions about TV shows for their children. The guidelines are modeled after the familiar movie ratings—with age-based guidance and content descriptor icons—in order to be easy for parents to use and easily recognizable. The TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board, which consists of representatives from the cable, broadcast, and creative communities, as well as third party public interest representatives, also was established in 1996 and exists to ensure the accuracy, uniformity, and consistency of the ratings, to respond to public questions, and to address complaints about particular programs.  

Learn more about the TV ratings here.