Sneaking into R-rated movies is so old school
I clearly recall telling my then 13-year-old son that the movie Superbad was a total non-starter for him. Full of underage drinking, I didn't want him to think getting plastered was hilarious. So he didn't go sneak into the theater with his friends. But a week later, he was quoting movie dialogue. He didn't need to see the movie. He simply went online and watched the trailers. Then he went on to YouTube for more. Finally, he illegally downloaded a pirated user-posted copy by using an open source file-sharing application called BitTorrent. A total wipeout. Not only had he seen the movie, but he'd also broken the law. As if that wasn't enough, he'd also downloaded spyware malware onto his new(ish) computer. Which slowed to a crawl within a week.
R-Rated content is a click away
Every movie has a website. And if it's an R-rated movie, there are probably two trailers available online. One is a green banded trailer that has been edited so that it's appropriate for broader age ranges, and a red banded trailer that contains content akin to R-rated content. Entering a birthdate is all that stands between your child and the red banded content. And most kids know how to add 10 years to their ages. There are even web sites dedicated to providing all red band trailers in one convenient location. Content you wouldn't let your kids see in the theaters is now delivered right to their bedrooms.
And if a kid wants to see more than the trailer, a simple Google search for a movie name followed by the word 'torrent' usually surfaces a downloadable version.
Or, if your kids are more legally-inclined, they can simply wait until the movie is available for purchase and buy it from iTunes.Or watch it On-Demand through your cable provider. The barriers to R-rated content have fallen.
So what can you do?
Don't give up. It's easy to want to throw in the towel and feel outgunned. Instead, talk to your kids about your feelings about violence, sex, substance abuse, etc. It may not stop them from seeing something, but they won't be able to get your voice out of their heads entirely when they do check out forbidden content.
Check browser histories and see if BitTorrent has been downloaded. Although it's perfectly legal and is used for legal content, it's also the pirater's enabler. Delete it immediately. Check what's on your 13-year-old's browser history.
Work out what's acceptable. Before your kids go to iTunes or On-Demand, make sure you all have an understanding of what is and isn't appropriate.
Establish consequences. Illegal downloading is just a dreadful idea -- for every reason under the sun. Beginning with the fact it's illegal. But the kind of horrid stuff that piggy backs on illegal downloads is a guarantee your kid's computer will end up at the local repair shop.
Figure out a punishment ahead of time. Announce it. And enforce it. My son is still working off the last repair bill and he has no computer until it's done unless he uses mine for homework.Does your kid -- or if you're a kid, do you -- sneak R-rated peeks?