Age restrictions in South Africa are too lenient – FPB

The Film and Publication Board (FPB) has released its Discussion Document on the Review of the Classification Guidelines.

The documents invites submissions on classifications in South Africa, outlines research done by the FPB on the matter, and details its initial findings.

The document contains multiple sections with regards to content classification, including a study on age restrictions and their effect on children.

“Based on the research findings of the current study… the classification decisions are mostly seen as inappropriate and inconsistent among both children and parents of younger children,” said the FPB.

“The impact of movie content on children between 7 to 17 years of age is manifested in emotional and behavioural reactions such as the imitating of actions.”

Age restrictions

The FPB said that it established the impact of content on children through viewing sessions conducted with the children aged 10 to 17 years – who then participated in group discussions.

“For the viewing sessions, age-appropriate movies were selected by the FPB which contained movie scenes including classifiable elements such as violence, sexual content, bad language, horror, substance abuse, blasphemy, and prejudice,” it said.

“The impact of movie content on children aged 10 to 17 years old was found to be profound.”

The FPB said the viewing sessions suggest that:

  • Sexual content, nudity and violence seem to have the greatest impact on children.
  • Elements of horror have a significant impact on children, but they tend to become desensitised towards these elements.
  • More abstract or subtle themes such as blasphemy and prejudice are less noticeable.

It was found that, based on the opinion of children in the focus groups, the “current age restrictions are not appropriate”, said the FPB.

“In most instances, age restrictions were perceived to be too lenient, especially those concerning movie elements such as violence, horror, and sexual content.”


The FPB’s classification guidelines are reviewed every five years, and stakeholders are invited to provide input on the guidelines via written submissions.

Written submissions must be mailed to [email protected] by 27 March 2018.

Public consultation sessions will be held throughout the country from 19 February to 13 March 2018.

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Age restrictions in South Africa are too lenient – FPB