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Study: PG-13 Movies More Violent Than R-Rated '80s Films

Frightened Twins at a Scary 3-D Movie
Photograph by Getty Images/iStockphoto

When it comes to violence in movies, your kids are seeing way more of it than we did in the '80s, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.

"In particular, gun violence in PG-13 films has tripled since 1985, the year the PG-13 rating was introduced," according to NBCNews.com. "And overall, violence in movies has nearly quadrupled since the 1950s."

The researchers, led by Ohio State University psychologist Brad Bushman, studied 945 top-grossing films released from 1950-2012. Undergraduate students watched each film and counted violent acts and sequences that were defined by "physical acts where the aggressor makes or attempts to make some physical contact with the intention of causing death or injury," according to the site.

One example was the 1990 R-rated film Die Hard 2. That film, the researchers found, had far fewer instances of gun violence and a "comparable amount of overall violence" than its PG-13-rated sequel Live Free or Die Hard, which came out in 2007.

When researchers studied sexual content and crude language, they found that sexual situations in particular "consistently" led to an R rating, which was not the case with violence.

Bushman and his fellow researchers are concerned with how watching violence might affect real behavior.

“People tell me all the time, I watch violent media and I’ve never killed anyone. Well, big deal. Nobody kills anyone; murder is a very rare event,” Bushman told NBC News. “So you’ve never murdered anyone. What I want to know is—how do you treat other people?”

The Motion Picture Association of America, which determines film ratings, declined to comment on the study, NBC News stated.

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