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Nobody cares what we think: a post for teens

Posted on 12 November 2013 by Henry

A lot of teens think that public organisations like the Classification Office don't rate their opinions about what may be harmful in media content. But we do. We've done research to prove it.

In one of our recent studies, young people told us how they defined 'harm', and we agree with them. They said that there are short term harms like a momentary shock - getting a fright - that you get over pretty quickly, usually. Then there're the things that stay with you, and you develop some fears or have trouble sleeping. Not so good. If someone develops suicidal thoughts or feels depressed because of something they've seen in the media, then that's serious.

Most people can distinguish between real life and fantasy. That's great, but evidence shows that watching too much violence (for example) can still have negative effects, like thinking or acting aggressively. Young people thought this too - that violent attitudes can be encouraged, glamorised, or normalised. A number of other harms are outlined on page 44 of our survey report.

There's been heaps in the news lately about the potential harms of watching pornography. Teens in our discussion groups were keen to share their views with us about this. Some harms included 'thinking about women as sex objects', and worse still, 'treating women as sex objects'. Read pages 50-54 in in this report to find out what others your age think. Do you agree with what they told us? A number of other studies around the world have asked young people about porn as well, and we summarised the evidence in in another report.

We base our age restrictions on evidence and the likelihood of harm, and we're listening to young people about what these harms might be. So think about this when you're next choosing a game or a movie, and check the red labels - they're there for a reason.

Henry works in the Information Unit at the NZ Office of Film and Literature Classification. His views do not represent those of the Chief Censor or of the Classification Office. The Information Unit provides information to other staff, to the public, and to industry members - they are not involved in assigning classifications. Keep up with our blog posts by following us on Facebook and Twitter.

Teenagers watching a movie

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