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Penn Researchers Find Parents Can Be Desensitized To Violence, Sex In Movies

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It's Halloween time, which means there are plenty of terrifying movies being shown on television on the regular.

Now, a new Penn study finds that parents can become desensitized to sex and violence in movies after watching just a few minutes of a program.

The research, which was conducted by Penn's Annenberg Public Policy Center and published in the journal Pediatrics, found that after one sexually explicit or uber-violent movie clip, parents thought the minimum age to see the film should be approximately 17 – the equivalent of an R-rating.

But after seeing the entire movie, those same parents said they'd let teens approximately 14 years old watch.

The study's authors argue that those who rate movies for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and are themselves parents may suffer the same desensitization and are "thus more likely to be lenient when it comes to evaluating the appropriateness of such content for children."

They say this might explain why their previous research has shown violence in PG-13 movies has more than tripled since 1985.

To see the full study, click here.

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