Two new studies are calling into question the effectiveness of movie and television ratings systems and are raising concerns that young, impressionable minds are being saturated with images depicting sex, violence, and the glorification of substance abuse.

A study out of the University of Pennsylvania found that movies rated PG-13 contained as much violence, sexual behavior and drug and alcohol use as R-rated films.
The report found a repeated pattern in the top-grossing moves over a 25-year period, with 90 per cent of films depicting characters acting violently. In 77 per cent, the same characters also engaged in sex, alcohol and/or drug use.

Researchers said the films were “potentially teaching youth that violence is as acceptable as these other behaviours.” “We know that some teenagers imitate what they see on screen,” lead author of the study, Amy Bleackley, said in a release. “What concerns us is that movies aimed at younger viewers are making connections between violence and a variety of risky behavior – sex, drinking and smoking.” The fact that there was little difference between the content in PG-13 and R movies begs further examination into the “reliability and validity of the ratings system…”

A separate study by the Parents Television Council study released Monday found that there was a marked difference in parental cautions when it came to shows on broadcast networks in comparison to popular cable shows like The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad.
The study found that violence and graphic gore was often equal, but warnings on broadcast networks were milder. Depictions of rape, murder and mutilation usually garnered only a TV-14 “parents strongly cautioned” rating on network television, while similar scenes on cable were hit with a stricter TV-MA for mature audiences only.

Media watchdog council president Tim Winter noted that were no TV-MA rated shows on broadcast, despite numerous programs that depicted disturbing levels of violence.
With files from The Associated Press