Turns out the PG-13 rating may be protecting children from seeing more extreme violence, but it's turning them into gun nuts in the process.
In a just released study in the scientific journal Pediatrics, American and Dutch university researchers have found that over the past two decades, gun violence in PG-13 rated films has more than tripled.
In fact, PG-13-rated movies have contained "as much or more violence as R-rated films" since 2009, with 2012 being the tipping point where violence in PG-13 movies was higher than in R-rated movies.
The study was conducted on the top 30 films of each year between 1950 and 2012. Gun violence was defined as shooting a gun and hitting a living target, with both hunting scenes and larger artillery (eg. RPGs) not counted.
Standout PG-13 films that contained a "lot of gun violence" include "The Dark Knight," "Inception," "The Avengers," "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," "Captain America: The First Avenger," "The Amazing Spiderman," "Terminator Salvation," "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," and "Taken 2".
A big concern is what's known as the 'weapons effect' where the presence of guns can increase aggressive behavior, especially in young people which PG-13 rated films target. Part of the issue is the way that the R rating has changed over the years, one of the study's co-authors saying "It appears sex scenes are more likely to result in an R rating than scenes of violence."