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Are you worried about what films your kids are downloading? Post your questions to expert at BBFC - ANSWERS BACK

(38 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 08-Aug-13 10:31:43

This week we're running a Q&A with Lucy Brett, Head of Education at the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), who will be answering questions about how you can ensure your children are accessing films safely and legally online.  Post your questions to Lucy before midday on Thursday 15th August and we'll post up her answers on 29th August.
An online survey commissioned by The Industry Trust for IP Awareness, in partnership with the BBFC, shows that just under half of children surveyed will be spending an hour each day watching films via smartphones and tablets during the summer holidays. While children admit to being aware of rules in place in the home designed to restrict what they can and can?t watch on the internet, a quarter download or stream movies from unofficial sources, which offer no guidance on age ratings. A third of younger children aged 11-12 admit to having recently downloaded or streamed a film rated 15 from a pirate website. 

LucyBrettBBFC Thu 22-Aug-13 11:35:22


Tbh I think it's a bit of a losing battle. Classification needs to be joining forces with Internet and you tube so that there is a consistent standard. After ds age ten and rigorously subject to only PG or 12a films asked if I'd seen chuckie, I sort of realised it was very hard to police. Any thoughts on joined up thinking?

We?re also in favour of a joined up approach. We commissioned some research in 2011 which showed that 90% of parents want the same classifications online as they expect to see in the physical world, on DVDs and at the cinema. The BBFC does rate films for use on the internet. and many of the major online providers are already working with us to use BBFC age ratings and BBFCinsight on their online services. You can find a list of these at:

Legal websites also require credit card details to access films, which children won't be able to do without an adult being present. There are also parental controls in place. Many legal film platforms use BBFC ratings to calibrate their parental controls meaning a password must be entered to access content over a certain age rating.

LucyBrettBBFC Thu 22-Aug-13 11:36:33


I'm more worried about the classification given to films than I am about what my kids are downloading. All kids, above about 10, know swear words and the odd 'fuck' gets a 15 rating yet the sexual content of some '12's' is just hard to understand. I'd much rather my kids heard some swearing than watched, albeit slightly off-screen, someone wanking into a jar in 'The Back-up Plan'. Much easier to explain that 'fuck' etc is a rude word that shouldn't be used in polite company than to explain what's going on in some romcoms.

The research showed that a quarter of 11-15-year-olds admit to accessing films via illegal pirate websites. As these sites rarely carry any age ratings or guidance, the worry with this behaviour is that kids can be unintentionally accessing films that are meant for much older audiences.

We use large scale public consultation exercises, carried out every 4-5 years, to create Classification Guidelines that are in step with general public opinion. You can download the Classification Guidelines at and read our guide for parents at to see how we treat issues parents tell us are important, like strong language, sex and drugs. We also realise some people’s expectations vary on certain issues, like strong language or sex. This is why we provide BBFCinsight information so it’s clear to parents what type of content they can expect to see in each film and whether it’s suitable for their child.

BBFCinsight for The Back Up Plan can be found here:

LucyBrettBBFC Thu 22-Aug-13 11:39:11


I am very worried about the classifications too. I think 15 films I've seen have been really scary sad


Good points about music videos. A soft play near us has them on during sessions, so under 5s are subjected to quite a bit of steamy content confused

Our age classification ratings are designed in consultation with public opinion to gauge how people expect films to be rated. But we know it’s important for parents to be able to read about the issues in a film and decide if it’s right for their child. You can read our guide to 15 at:

Unfortunately the BBFC don’t have an enforcement role with what soft play centres or playgroups can show to kids in their care but it might be worth broaching the subject with the management about what you feel is appropriate for young children.

LucyBrettBBFC Thu 22-Aug-13 11:40:16


I dont quite understand the question. Why would I have any concerns about what films ds was accessing online? Do you mean what he is able to access, that is getting past the parental controls, we have set up?

All the other points made, re recent superman, more importantantly, YouTube and music videos, they are MUCH more of a concern.

Research shows lots of households have rules in place (around 50%) but children don’t always follow these. As I said earlier, music videos and other videos online are not required to carry an age rating, but we are working on tools which websites might be able to use in the future to rate videos online voluntarily. For now there is advice provided by YouTube about blocking certain kinds of content and some parental controls can also help parents regulate what videos their children are watching online.

LucyBrettBBFC Thu 22-Aug-13 11:41:19


My son is too young for this to be an issue, but I don't really understand the question either. It's almost as if there's a paragraph missing in the OP.

I do think film classifications need to be reviewed, however, with more detail as to what they mean, not just on, say, the BBFC website, but on the actual rating, i.e. rated 12A due to cartoon violence.

Recent research showed us that kids are disturbed by some of the films they’re accessing on pirate websites. The issue here is that pirate sites don’t contain any age ratings or guidance about what they are about to view, so they can end up watching films that are meant for much older teens unintentionally.

Also, children are much more adept at technology now than ever before, so it’s important to start them young and get them to appreciate why films are rated the way they are.

All film ratings come with short BBFCinsight, for example: 12A Contains moderate action violence and one use of strong language.

This BBFCinsight usually appears on DVD boxes, some cinema posters as well as on our website and free Apps for Android and iPhone devices. It explains the key issues that resulted in the film receiving a 12A rating. Lots of parents find the BBFC App really useful because it saves the information each time you update it, so if you’re at the cinema and you don’t have a wifi or 3G connection, you can still check age ratings and BBFCinsight when choosing what film to see with your family.

It’s worth noting our education work, which shows that even younger children can engage with age ratings and we’re about to re-launch our CBBFC website, designed specifically for primary school children.

LucyBrettBBFC Thu 22-Aug-13 11:42:17


I'd applaud the work that the BBFC put into analysing films so there is always good guidance available for parents to make informed decisions about whether a film is suitable or not. My husband writes a film blog, and includes some parental guidance (whether it's suitable for children, and if so, points that you might want to think about/be aware of as a parent), and I know he uses the BBFC guidance (as well as his own knowledge as a parent) to inform this.
My bigger concern, like others, is the classification system and its bias. We seem to be far more concerned about swear words than violence, and that seems insane to me. I was really cross that Made in Dagenham for example, was given a 15 certificate simply because of the swearing.
That's a movie that I want my daughters to watch, because it's really important and essential that they know about. I appreciate that everyone has different views about this - but the casual stereotyping/sexism in most movies and the accepted levels of violence don't seem to affect the ratings at all. I can tell my daughters not to swear relatively easily - but when the aspect that is damaging is implicit and accepted in the film, it's far harder to respond to the influences on your children.
And to answer the original point, I'm not worried about what my children download here, because they'd have to do it with us around - but I have little control about what happens at other people's houses, so it would be good if that could be better controlled I guess.

Thank you for your comment. What’s the name of your husband’s blog? I’d be interested in reading it. It’s great that you have rules in place around what your children can download and watch at home. But it’s also worth being aware of how to block access to content on their mobile phones and other devices as kids are increasingly online outside of the house too, as you say. Check out their mobile phone providers’ website for more info on this. You also mention what goes on at other people’s houses. Perhaps you could broach the subject with other parents by showing them this thread, or talking to your daughters to make sure they feel confident to tell other parents they aren’t happy to watch things over their age range. It’s also worth having a look at where all the films listed are age rated and from trusted sources.

The BBFC film classifications are determined in accordance with public opinion, but we know parents need information to make viewing decisions.

It’s fair to say we’ve moved away from a tick box approach as the Guidelines have shifted in line with what the public tells us is important, so for example, you’ll see a greater emphasis on tone, impact and context in our Guidelines, but at the same time, the public still tell us repeated use of strong language isn’t acceptable to them at the advisory age ratings.

BBFCinsight for Made in Dagenham can be found here:

LucyBrettBBFC Thu 22-Aug-13 11:43:23


I find its not just the music videos, my eldest son, 5, walks around singing about sexy ladies ( gangnam ) rude boy are you big enough ( rihanna ) fricking awesome an sheets that smell of piss ( thrift shop ) even if the radio version plays pssssss it still sounds like hes swearing. Nearly every song now is about sex, violence or swearing. As for you tube, he watches mindcraft walk throughs, i've had to turn them off as they are full of swearing, as are mario and harry potter walk throughs. None of which you have to log in to watch.

As I said to AyUpMiDuck, our remit doesn’t currently cover music or music videos, but it is worth checking out YouTube’s safety centre to find out about blocking offensive content - - and to look for the ‘explicit content’ label on digital music and video services.

You can also find out more about how video games are rated by visiting the PEGI website -

LucyBrettBBFC Thu 22-Aug-13 11:44:54


I agree that there is a problem. Id appreciate it if films on TV or services like Netflix showed a rating for films before a movie like they do at the cinema. Maybe TV movies should show that screen after each break to protect kids as there seems to be no proper watershed anymore.


Id appreciate ratings on YouTube too. My 6 year old loves watching people play minecraft and these range from harmless fun to very sweary so I have to vet what he watches. I'd also like pop ups and banner ads to be age appropriate. My children have seen inappropriate ones on age appropriate websites like free gaming ones.

We do work with Netflix and other platforms so they can use our ratings information clearly on their site, but not all platforms show the rating again before the film starts. Some other platforms do show a black card with the age rating before the film starts, for example BT Vision do this, as do British Airways when you watch a film on one of their flights, but it’s not a legal requirement. Similarly films shown on TV apply Ofcom rules and they’re not required to show a BBFC age rating, but parents can use the BBFC App or website to check the age rating of a film being shown on TV to help guide them. also shows BBFC age ratings for TV series where BBFC age ratings are available for the service on demand or on DVD.

It might be worth looking at the BBC website about their approach to what is suitable for showing before the watershed -

With regards to YouTube, it is worth checking out YouTube’s safety centre to find out about blocking offensive content -

You can also find out more about how video games are rated by visiting the PEGI website -

LucyBrettBBFC Thu 22-Aug-13 11:45:58


Ditto to what diamond211 said. DD has very restricted viewing anyway, but I do worry about what is deemed "age appropriate".

But as others have pointed out - there is a lot of inappropriate stuff out there that doesn't need to get past censors. I remember when DD was born and I was stuck on the sofa breastfeeding, at 9.00 a.m. the music channels were showing Lady Gaga and Beyonce doing soft porn.

We do work with younger children in schools and find they’re very receptive to learning about age ratings that are appropriate for them and even older children have said they’re concerned about younger siblings watching them use pirate websites or watching films that aren’t age appropriate for them.

As I said earlier, it’s not in our remit to rate music videos currently, but we are working on tools websites might be able to use in the future to rate videos online voluntarily.

gazzalw Thu 22-Aug-13 12:27:17

Thanks for all your answers, Lucy!

EATmum Thu 22-Aug-13 20:47:11

Thanks for all your responses LucyBrettBBFC. My husband's blog is (nothing to do with being left handed - a reference to the ever-awesome Princess Bride) and includes a "is this one for the kids?" section with parental guidance where it's appropriate - posts on The Hobbit, Oz The Great and Powerful, Iron Man 3 and Life of Pi might be good examples. Thanks again for your individual responses to our issues - it's very hard to regulate appropriately when we all have such different views about what we're happy for our children to see!

LucyBrettBBFC Tue 27-Aug-13 11:49:37

Message deleted by Mumsnet - opps our mistake blush

SilentSilver Fri 20-Sep-13 10:28:37

am also worried about my kid because he always download games and movies daily. he get irritated day by day. i dont know what to do. he always download movies form here

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