Are Preteens Ready for PG13?
Written by Rob Quinn
Over the summer there have been several reoccurring discussions in our household. These discussions have happened before, but they seem to be happening more and more as my daughter gets older.
These specific discussions have centered on wanting to read a book her friends are reading or watch a movies he sees a trailer for.
As she is getting older and beginning to question things, the simple answers don’t cut it anymore. This means there needs to be more of an explanation than to answer “mommy and daddy said so.”
Since these talks are becoming more frequent with my own preteen, I started to ask myself some questions.
How many other parents are dealing with this? What effect can this have on preteens? What can we do to help guide parents to make these decisions with their preteens?
It is not our job as preteen leaders to tell parents what they should and shouldn’t allow their children do. However, if we can help guide parents so that they can make educated decisions based on their own family values (without judging them), a great partnership can develop.
Let’s answer the questions from above.
1. How many parents are dealing with this?
This really is the easiest question to answer; all parents are dealing with this. There are many times in a child’s life when they want to do things because someone else is doing it.
The particular issue today focuses on what they want to read and watch. Culture seems to be bombarding our preteens with media choices they are not equipped to understand yet.
First, let parents know it is ok if they are asking why they can’t watch or read something. This is not a disrespect thing; they truly want to know why.
This is a great opportunity for parents to teach walk preteens through the reasoning so they can understand why, and then start to make similar decisions on their own.
A preteen may not agree with the why, but it will be easier to understand because parents took the time to explain it.
This should apply to when they are “not allowed to” and “are all owed to” as well.
If we only take time explain the “No” answers they will never understand what has changed when there is a “Yes.”
2. What effect can this have on preteens?
This is where we as preteen leaders can educate our parents on the differences between a preteen and a teenager.
The brain of a preteen is changing, as well as the information they receive and how they process it.
When preteens are subjected to media that they are not ready to process, it can begin to desensitize them to what is right and wrong;or real and not real.
I have read and watched some of the recent popular books and movie series. On a personal note, I have enjoyed them and can’t wait for the next movie to come out.
When I read them, my brain is developed to understand right and wrong, good and bad. As an adult,I have developed the defense mechanisms to understand and process the situations in these books and movies and respond appropriately.
A preteen brain is just starting to develop these mechanisms and may not be able to cope with and understand the complex scenarios in some of these books and movies.
When we continually expose preteens before they develop these coping mechanisms, they can begin to develop responses that are not appropriate.
For example, a situation may be interpreted by preteens as funny, when it is actually hurtful; or something sexual can become no big deal to them.
3. What can our parents do to help them make informed decisions with their preteens?
I think the first thing we all need to do is pray.
● Ask God for protection for all of the children and preteens.
● Ask God to help give wisdom and discernment to parents and preteens.
● Ask God to give them the strength and courage to do what is right.
When a parent asks me if they should let their preteen watch a movie or read a book, the first thing I tell them is to ask God and to also educate themselves.
Now as a parent, I know even that though I talk to God about these things, I ultimately do need to make a decision on them.
This is when I begin to look at the resources He has provided to help me make a wise choice.
Here are some of the tools I use and recommend to my parents:
● Common Sense Media – commonsensemedia.org
● Plugged In – pluggedin.com
A popular resource for reviews is Common Sense Media. This is a website and app that rates several media types, including movies and books, with the goal to educate parents. It also rates quality and age appropriateness.
When using Plugged In, a website and app provided by Focus on the Family, books and movies are reviewed with Christ at the center of it. Details are given about the content and a Plugged In rating and Content Caution rating are provided.
IMDB is for movies only and is not affiliated with any Christian organization. They do review all movies and offera good comprehensive summary with a parent review section.
The final and most important thing I recommend to parents is to read the book or watch the movie first.
I understand that most parents may not want to read or watch the same things that their kids do, however this gives parents a great way to make an informed decision.
What better way to make sure their preteen is getting the right explanation then to walk through it together?
Even though preteens may seem disrespectful by asking for an explanation, they really need parental guidance to help them learn how to make God-centered decisions before they can handle some of the worldview culture on their own.
Rob Quinn serves as the Preteen Ministry Coordinator at Community Bible Church in Brighton, MI. He has been involved with preteen ministry for almost 8 years now. Rob is married to an amazing woman Jodi, who just so happens to be the Children’s Ministry Director at his church. They have one beautiful daughter Sydni, and an 8-pound attack dog named Lilly.