The codes cover the impact of the material and context in which it is shown, factoring in violence, sex, drugs, adult themes, nudity and language. Some codes also consider the presence of suicide and dangerous imitable activity—find out more about television classification with this Free TV fact sheet.
Material should be very mild in impact and must not contain material unsuitable for children to watch unsupervised. While many are family orientated and target all ages, they are not all necessarily intended for children.
Programs must be mild in impact and suitable for children to watch with supervision. They may contain adult themes and generally target all ages.
Material must be moderate in impact and is recommended for audiences 15 years or over.
Content with strong impact, suitable for viewing by audiences 15 years or over.
Classification symbols are usually displayed at the beginning of a show and may also provide consumer warnings about its content, such as violence and strong language. Consumer advice may not be given for G, PG or M material in some cases.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) lists all television industry codes of practice. It includes information about program classification rules and time zones. Television program guides also provide schedules and classification information. They can generally be found in magazines, newspapers and on electronic program guides, such as Freeview and Your TV and the ABC’s children's television guide.
Talk to other parents about the programs you may be interested in—they may be able to spotlight potential concerns. Your child’s teacher is likely to have a good understanding about what shows are high quality and developmentally appropriate. User reviews and child development experts can also be a good source of information about program content, quality, themes and potentially harmful material.
Australian Children’s Television Foundation
A non-profit children’s media production and children’s television policy hub, distributor and investor in Australian children’s television programs and developer of education resources. Website offers advice to parents about TV, current children’s shows and TV top picks.
Australian Council on Children and the Media
A non-profit body committed to promoting a media environment that fosters the health, safety and wellbeing of Australian children. Provides movie and app reviews as well as parent guides and resources about media matters involving children.
An Australian parenting website that offers practical and expert child health and parenting information, tips and tools for children aged 0-15 years. Topic areas cover child development, behaviour, health, nutrition, communication, sleep and safety. The play and learning section offers movie reviews and tips about children’s TV viewing.
Common Sense Media (US)
A US non-profit organisation dedicated to helping families make smart media choices. Offers age-based and educational ratings and reviews for movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites, books and music. Provides information to parents to help navigate raising children in a digital age and a K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum.
Parent note: this site provides independent ratings, reviews and information about films, TV shows, games, apps and websites and their suitability for children. It is mainly for US programs. To use, simply type your program name into the search field and select the relevant filter.