Parents were shown clips from six mainstream films containing similar levels of graphic violence and explicit sex. After each clip, researchers asked participants what age they thought the film would be appropriate for, giving them a range from 6 to 19 years old. For the first violent clip, the average age given was 16.9, and for the first sexually oriented clip, it was 17.2. But by the time they got done watching all the graphic content, parents had gradually reduced the ages to 13.9 for the violent material and 14 for the sexual content of the final clips they saw.
In addition, parents who'd watched films with graphic sexual and violent content in the week before the study were more likely to OK such material for younger viewers.
Daniel Romer, director of the Adolescent Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, summarized the study's findings by saying simply, "We saw a really remarkable desensitization." And he and his team further theorized that because the Motion Picture Association of America's rating team is composed of parents, this personal desensitization could be a contributing factor with regard to "ratings creep," the phenomenon of movies' problematic content being rated more leniently over time.
--excerpt from an October 27, 2014 post by Focus on the Family's Plugged In click here to read entire post