Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Growing up without age restrictions

When I was looking up some stuff for my latest Skins recap for eurout, I noticed a sign on the top of the Skins website that read “Adult content alert! You must be 18 to proceed.” Now how ridiculous is that?

I mean, I am not against age restrictions perse, but we are talking about a teen show, aimed at teenagers, yet the corresponding website about the show is not suitable for teenagers? Either the warning label has to go or the e4 channel has to think about whether or not their material they are “selling” to kids is suitable.

These days there seem to be age restrictions for everything. Whether it is on the internet (which is usually so stupid. Warning someone they are not allowed to view it if they are under 18, will only make the person under 18 click and proceed), in shops, on DVDs etc.

Perhaps they have always been there everywhere else, but not in the Netherlands. I grew up without any age restrictions. Sure, we had some official laws, for example, that you were not allowed to drink under 16, but no one paid any attention to it.

Any 14 year old could go into the supermarket and by a six-pack, or order a drink in the pub. Same thing for buying cigarettes or watching an R-rated movie. In fact, up till a few years ago, we did not even have age restrictions on movies.

Even now that we have them, these restrictions are often much lower than in other countries. We only have three ratings, PG 8, 12 and 16 and the latter is only reserved for the really bad stuff. I guess we don’t worry about the innocent eyes of our kids that much. And why should we?

I watched anything and everything when I was little, and I don’t think it ever did me any harm. I remember going to see Basic Instinct at the theatre when I was 15. To me this was no big deal, but it was to my Scottish friend who was visiting, who told me she wouldn’t be able to get into the movie theatre back home.

I think I was very surprised at this, and couldn’t understand how someone would care enough to check the age of the kids going to see a movie. These days, even though we have some age restrictions for movies, I still don’t think anyone checks for this.

That has changed for alcohol and cigarettes though. Kids have to be 16 in order to buy those. Yes, only 16, lower than in most countries, but to me it’s a perfectly fine age. It’s not like any teenager is waiting until after high school to start smoking or drinking.

I certainly didn’t. Even if I wouldn’t have been able to buy my bottles of Martini or Pisang Ambon (yes, I used to drink that crap) at the local supermarket, I am sure I still would have found a way to get it.

I’m sure there was a point to all of this, but I seem to have forgotten it. What I am trying to say is that I don’t think age restrictions are necessarily a bad thing, just that I think it’s rather silly when governments get too anal about it, trying to “save the kids” from all the horrible bad things out there.

I was never ‘protected’, and I turned out just fine. Right?

1 comment:

Chantal said...

And the worst part of it all... you're completely right. I grew up with no age restrictions as well. My parents did enlist some basic 'rules' in me to never drink outside the house and was not allowed to drink until I was 16. But if I wanted too, I could have gotten anything I wanted.