Sex vs. Violence on Screen: Is One Worse for Girls? For Boys?

televisionWhen it comes to TV and movies (or even the internet and video games) and your big kids, are you more freaked out about them seeing violence or sex? And is your sex vs. violence "freak-o-meter" determined by the gender of your kids? Think about it.


On a recent family vacation, my mom and I were watching the first season of Mad Men while my two boys and two nieces were playing in the spa with my brother. At some point, the kids came up for a snack.

My mom and I kept watching since there wasn't much that wasn't PG-rated going on in the episode. Then suddenly Don Draper was in bed with one of his lady friends. It was a very soap opera level, post-lovemaking scene. A man and a woman kissing in bed. Sheets all the way up. Nothing showing. Cigarette smoking being the only thing making it PG-13.

I have to admit, I didn't freak out. Sure, I was on alert and placed my finger over the stop button, but my brother immediately said, "Whoah, whoah, whoah, children in the room."

I clicked it off but made some wise crack about it being über-mild compared to the violent stuff he watches all the time, including the entire light-saber-flailing Star Wars series. He claimed, "Yeah, but that's not real."

I disagreed in theory here, but I also had to admit I was risking the kids getting an R-rated peek since I didn't know if the scene might turn steamier.

But then I got to thinking. Why do we feel so different about this? Am I more freaked about violence because I have boys and the stuff that's marketed to and piques the interest of boys often has more violent tendencies (although I'm not really that freaked about that anymore either with two boys obsessed with The Clone Wars)? And is he more freaked about sexual content because he has girls and the stuff that's marketed to and piques the interest of girls often has more romantic/mildly sexual tendencies?

Please note: I am talking about PG or maybe PG-13 rated violence (use of guns or weapons, physical fighting, unrealistic shootings) and sexual content (heavy kissing, soap opera style bedroom scenes) on screen here.

Does having boys or girls make you more sensitive to sex vs. violence on screen? Take our poll.

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