Watching M-rated TV shows at 12

Growing up with parents who didn’t watch Australian television much, my media exposure wasn’t regulated at all. They basically allowed us to watch any television and movies that we wanted and never really checked what we were watching. The only media regulation that we were faced with was being able to watch TV after 9pm, which was bedtime, thus impacting our ability to watch M and MA15+ television programs. However, during the school holidays, this wasn’t a problem and I was freely allowed to watch Law & Order: SVU and movies after 9pm. Yes, this could be considered an issue because watching a violent, sexual crime based TV show in primary school wasn’t the best thing, considering I had nightmares about it, but my parents just didn’t know. They never watched Australian TV and even if they did, they wouldn’t understand a lot of the language. This just meant that by 12, although I may not have known what it meant, I knew every apparent swear word, violent sex crimes and the American legal system.


I remember I watched my first R rated movie when I was in year 6 at a friends’ house. We watched a graphic fighting movie, which I remember till this day and I was absolutely terrified. I unfortunately found it ‘cool’ that I could go to school and tell my friends that I had watched an R rated movie and my parents didn’t care. But now that I think about it, they never knew about the movie rating system back then due to not being faced with it themselves. Through this I learnt the media regulation system in Australia and began to regulate my own media exposure.


When visiting movie theatres, I knew I couldn’t watch a MA15+ movie with my friends without my parents present, and usually this was the case. The Australian classification system provides movies and video games with advisory classifications that assist with parent’s decision to allow viewership. At cinemas, MA15+ isn’t recommended for those under the age of 15 due to classified content (drug use, sexual and language content) however, it can still be viewed as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 18. This is an example of current media regulation enforced by governmental authorities. Viewership of M- classified movies at home may be harder for authorities to regulate but that’s where the overall regulation enforced by parents and guardians are practised- which was indefinitely absent for me, as an adolescent.

Australian Classification for movies and games Source:


Media regulation constitutes the idea of media space that demonstrates the ‘existence of media forms within social space and the cultural visions of a physical space transcended by technology and emergent virtual pathways of communication’ (Couldry & McCarthy, 2004). The regulation of movies through classified ratings enforces the media space and place as it impacts what is being demonstrated and shown to society. For children under the age of 15, the movie classification protects them from strong impacting movies that may have coarse language and violent behaviour thus, restricting what is suitable for them to watch. This form of regulation links with media space in demonstrating what children are confined to and limiting their media exposure.

Check out this article by lesson bucket to read more about media regulation in Australia as well as controversies from this. Let me know in the comments below on how your media was regulated as a child and if it was totally opposite to what I was faced with!


Australian government, department of communications and the arts, ‘Information for Parents’ in Classification.

Couldry, N. McCarthy, A. 2004, ‘Media Space: Place, Scale and Culture in a Media age’, Routledge, New York, pp. 8

Lamb, B. 2013, ‘Media Regulation.


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