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Viewing films safely online

Many parents have concerns or questions about whether films their children can watch on the internet have age ratings. Here we answer the questions we get asked the most frequently about finding films with BBFC age ratings online.

Using our Parents' Guide to Age Ratings can help you and your family choose what's right for you and avoid what's not - whatever you watch, wherever and however you watch it.

Start them young! Kids have a great love and appreciation for films. The younger they are when they understand why films have to be classified and why it’s important to access films via legal channels, the safer they will be when it comes to watching films online. 

The BBFC age rates the films you and your family see on DVD and at the cinema, but we also work with video-on-demand platforms to provide age ratings for films and videos on the internet. In addition we also help mobile operators decide what online content they put behind their parental controls on mobile phones.

Films online don’t need an age rating from the BBFC by law, but in practice most providers and users are keen to make sure children are watching age appropriate material.

1. Check for our trusted BBFC ratings online.

You can check to see if the video-on-demand platform you subscribe to uses BBFC age ratings by looking at the Digital Age Ratings page on our main website. That website contains information about all of our work, including ratings info and information about 15 and 18 films and adult content. 

2. Find out why we've given a film or series the rating.

Do your homework. Some films are rated U or PG because they contain no material that is unsuitable for a particular age category, but they might not necessarily be suitable for children. Gone With The Wind (PG) is a good example. This classic Hollywood film is rated PG but it isn't intended for children.

Look up any film or series displaying our rating on our main bbfc.co.uk website and the ratings info will provide a summary of how and why a film was rated at any given category and gives you a list of the issues in the film including some brief examples.

3. Enable parental controls on any video-on-demand service your children are using.

Activate simple parental controls – it’s easy to set up access controls on laptops, tablets and smartphones, which allow you to decide if you want films with certain ratings to be password protected and it’s possible to block specific websites. If you’re not sure how, contact your Internet Service Provider for more information.

Most video-on-demand platforms will let you set parental controls to prevent children watching anything that might be unsuitable for them. Some websites have dedicated parts of their site for children’s films, and some even allow you to restrict the search by age ratings so children can browse age appropriate films. Information about parental controls from your video-on-demand platform can usually be found in their FAQ section.

4. Check if the film is from a legitimate website and what the age rating is.

Start by visiting FindAnyFilm.com – a one-stop shop where you can find all films, all above board, all in one place. The website has been developed by the film industry and contains information on BBFC age ratings and ratings info to help families make informed decisions about their film choices. If a film has an online BBFC age rating you can read more about the film by checking the ratings info, as you would with a film you were going to see at the cinema or on DVD. The ratings info is aimed particularly at parents and it offers a summary of how and why a film was rated at any given category. You can find read ratings info on our website and our free App which you can download at the Google or iTunes store. More information on ratings info can be found here.

5. Watch out for illegal or pirate websites.

Films on illegal or pirate websites do not always have accurate age ratings, or any age ratings at all. They may also contain additional material. Filesharing or downloading films illegally online can also carry risks such as viruses to computers or prosecution.

It is possible to find films legally online though. A good place to start is FindAnyFilm.com – a website developed by the film industry. FindAnyFilm.com contains information on BBFC age ratings and ratings info to help families make informed decisions about their film choices online.

For more information about piracy, viewing films legally you can go to the Industry Trust for IP Awareness website.

6. Read what the UK Safer Internet Centre has to say about online safety. 

There’s lots of information available about online safety more generally, and viewing material online. A good place to start is the UK Safer Internet Centre.

For regular BBFC updates, including information about our work regarding films online you can follow us on Twitter, our account is @BBFC.

7. Get in touch with us if you have any concerns or questions.

We aim to work as a trusted guide for parents when they’re deciding what their family watches online, by giving you the same information you’ve come to expect to see on DVDs or at the cinema. If you have questions about specific services, films you’ve seen online or how we’re planning to develop online services, please email us at feedback@bbfc.co.uk