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Study: Movies Rated PG-13 Contain As Much Violence As R-Rated Movies

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Family movie night may be doing more harm than ever, according to a new analysis of PG-13-rated movies.

As CBS 2's Emily Smith reported, movie ratings are supposed to help parents decide which films are appropriate for their children. But a new study found PG-13 is not shielding kids from gun violence on the screen.

An analysis in the December issue of the journal Pediatrics shows violence in films has more than doubled since 1950, gun violence in PG-13 films has more than tripled since 1985 and since 2009, PG-13-rated films have contained as much violence as R-rated films.

Psychologists suggest doing a lot more research than just what you read in the paper before heading into a movie with your children.

"I can tell you it's very disturbing to me," psychologist Dr. Harris Stratyner told Smith. "I think we need to review the rating system, I just don't think it's working."

The Motion Picture Association of America's rating system started in 1968. The PG-13 rating was added in 1984 in response to an Indiana Jones movie.

Its violence had some parents demanding the rating suggest more than parental guidance, Smith reported.

"We haven't seen that pressure yet happen in the movie industry but I wouldn't be surprised if it does," pop culture expert Adam Hanft said.

While this recent study analyzed hundreds of films from 1950 to 2012, parents heading into "Thor" - a PG-13 movie - had mixed feelings on the new findings.

"I think they're pretty spot-on most of the time," one mother said.

Whether you believe in the rating system or not, psychologists say there's no denying kids emulate what they see.

The MPAA did not respond to CBS 2's calls for comment as of Monday evening.

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