What does PG mean?
PG stands for Parental Guidance. This means a film is suitable for general viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for younger children. A PG film should not disturb a child aged around eight or older. Parents should consider whether the content might upset younger or more sensitive children.
Are all PG films made for younger audiences?
No. Some films are given a PG certificate but have not been made with a young audience in mind. A recent example of a film mostly enjoyed by grown ups but passed PG would be The Artist. However, the certificate means that any issues in the work are appropriate for the majority of this age group and nothing should upset a child of eight or over.
What sort of themes are passed at PG?
No theme is prohibited at PG, as long as it is treated in a manner appropriate to the category. PG works can explore challenging issues such as domestic violence, bereavement or racism.
In a PG work, illegal or antisocial behaviour, such as bullying, will not be condoned or seen to go unchallenged. Smoking and drinking will not be promoted or glamorised and if child characters are seen smoking or drinking, there should be a clear message that this is bad. If drugs are mentioned or seen, a PG work should emphasise that they are harmful.
Will there be bad language in a PG film?
There may be mild bad language (such as ‘shit’ or ‘son of a bitch’) in a PG film, but the context and delivery are always important. For example, if the language is used aggressively or if there is too much bad language, a work may be passed at the next category.
What about sex?
References to sex are acceptable if the activity talked about or shown is implied and lacking in detail. In addition, if a child is unlikely to understand a reference, we may allow it at PG. Comedy can also often lessen the impact of sex references and innuendo.
Heterosexual and homosexual sex and sex references are treated the same – so there could be mild or undetailed references to gay or straight sex at PG.
What about violence or horror at PG?
There should be no detail of violence in a PG work, so while there might be some blood, we would not see how the injury was inflicted in strong detail. Violence is generally more acceptable in a historical or fantasy setting, because of the distancing that this provides. It isn’t uncommon for PG films to feature ‘roller-coaster’ action or set pieces, where the emphasis is clearly on the adventure or journey of the main characters rather than the detail of violence or fighting.
As far as horror goes, we allow some 'jump' moments and scary scenes, but sequences showing significant or realistic violence, horror or threat must not be prolonged.
What about behaviour children might copy?
Potentially dangerous behaviour which children might copy (such as a child climbing into a washing-machine or playing with electricity) is unlikely to be acceptable at PG, especially if it comes across as safe or fun. Realistic or easily accessible weapons, such as knives, will not be glamorised or focused upon in a PG work.
Will there be any drugs in a PG?
There might be innocuous or passing references to illegal drugs or drugs misuse in a PG work, although there should be no strong focus on this. In addition drug references may be permissible if there is a clear anti-drugs or educational message likely to be understood by children over eight.
How can I find out more about a PG film or DVD?
Please check the BBFCinsight for the film or video you are thinking of watching. You may find BBFCinsight on this website or on our free App as well as on film posters, DVD and Blu-ray packaging, and on some listings. You will also find it attached to some film and video content which is available to download. It provides comprehensive information on exactly why a film or video has been given a particular category. All the issues are discussed in detail and parents in particular can use this information to make informed decisions when choosing viewing material for their children.
A guide to BBFCinsight is available here.
For the full text of the BBFC Guidelines at PG please download the document below.