Can an 8 year old watch The Simpsons?


Caitlin on May 20, 2024

This blog is written by Riley, a media studies student from St Peter's College. It is the first in a series of guest blogs in celebration of Media Literacy week 2024.

During Media Literacy Week we encouraged and supported media studies students to write guest blogs about their personal experience of media and staying safe when using media.

The Media Literacy Week aims to “equip secondary students with vital skills to navigate the complexities of the digital age, fostering critical thinking and resilience in the online realm”. It’s run during Term 2 at schools and kura around Aotearoa New Zealand.

Here at Te Mana Whakaatu – Classification Office we love media literacy. Being aware of media, how to use it, interpret it, decode it, and verify it, means we can be safe out there. We tautoko this education push to improve media literacy for rangatahi.

Read on for Riley's blog tagged to the media theme of 'Access'.

I started watching The Simpsons when I was six years old. For me, the series is one of the greatest animated sitcoms of all time. The entire 35-season series is rated “M” – for mature audiences, and The Simpsons Movie (2007) is rated “PG” – Parental guidance. The series has many aspects of sex and violence, which pushes the rating up to “M”.

The movie doesn’t have the same level of sex and violence but does feature mob violence and, of course, the famous nude skateboarding scene with Bart. I think it’s important that parents should be weary in how this might affect their children. However, these scenes don’t happen often and are dampened by the bubbly cartoon nature of the series with funny characters and good stories. So, can an 8-year-old safely watch The Simpsons movie or series?

I was pretty young when I started watching The Simpsons unaware of the lasting impact a series could have on me. My parents were a bit concerned about Bart’s nude run on his skateboard, but they thought overall they were comfortable with me watching the film. The film quickly became one of my favourites and was the gateway for me to watch the whole series from the very start. That is something I am still doing on and off today (currently on Season 28, Episode 9). I love The Simpsons, it is my favourite TV series, and it has been since I started watching it all those years ago.

I have connected and learned from most of the characters in Springfield. I particularly enjoy episodes with Sideshow Bob and find evil characters such as Fat Tony, Mr. Burns hilarious.

In the end, this is just my experience of the effects this film and series has on young audiences. For parents who need more clarification about their children watching the Simpsons, here are a few things to watch out for.

Nudity and Sexual References

The most memorable nudity in the franchise is Bart’s iconic skateboard scene. Other examples include Homer and Marge getting intimate in public areas, after getting caught as they run away their private areas are blocked by objects. In another episode, the Simpsons go on a vacation and encounter college students. The girls are wearing only bikini bottoms but are shown from a from away, and you’re not able to see anything in detail. There are times when sex is implied, but we don’t see it and we can only hear them kissing.


Characters such as Fat Tony, an Italian mobster, and Sideshow Bob, who was an assistant to Krusty the Clown and has a vendetta against Bart Simpson, are the pillars of violence and crime in series and film. While other characters demonstrate violence such as gun violence and physical altercations these two characters’ stories are consistently centered around hurting people. Something I would encourage parents to talk about with their kids is how some series show the villains’ redeeming qualities that has viewers questioning whether they can like the bad guys or not. Sideshow Bob’s character specifically is balanced with a psychopathic nature while having a love for Theatre and English.

Foul Language

There is no offensive language in the movie or series. However, there are mild uses of coarse language. Bart frequently says ‘hell’ or ‘damn’ as part of his catchphrases, along with “get bent”, “shove it”, and of course, “eat my shorts.” Other words like ‘bastard’, ‘ass’ and ‘crap’ are used. There have been times where it has been implied that a character has said a highly offensive word, but it has been bleeped out for comedic effect. I think it comes down to how parents feel with their children watching a series or movie with this type of coarse language. While Bart doesn’t necessarily demonstrate good behaviour, perhaps there is opportunities to talk about his choices and make it a learning moment.

Can an 8-year-old watch The Simpsons? Well, I think it’s up to the parents and also based on your child’s interests, age and stage. The adult themes in the movie and series are mild, and a lot of it would likely go over a child’s head. My parents were comfortable with me watching The Simpsons at a young age and to this day it still stands as my favourite TV series. The way I see it is the adult content hasn’t impacted me in a negative way and instead has left me with some amazing memories that can connect me with my family and friends. It’s a series that I will forever go back and rewatch.

— Riley, Media Studies student at St Peter's College

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