What Is a V-Chip?

Television content can contain violence and other explicit content, but there are networks that air educational programming that is appropriate for children of all ages. Parents who want to ensure that their children can watch age-appropriate programming without being exposed to explicit content can use a V-chip to selectively block programs.

An Overview of the V-Chip

The V-chip is a piece of technology that is available in modern televisions. Parents who do not want their children to watch certain programs are able to block this content through use of the V-chip. Ratings that are assigned to these programs will determine whether or not the show can air on a television when a V-chip has been activated.

V-Chip History and Regulation

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), televisions have been required to include a V-chip since 2000. Converter boxes for analog televisions also include this technology to allow the V-chip to be used with older televisions.

How a V-Chip Works

Program ratings are encoded before the program is aired. This encoding allows the V-chip to determine whether the material is appropriate according to the setting. The encoded rating is scanned by the V-chip and compared with the rating that has been chosen by the parent. The signal from any programming that is not allowed according to the settings that the parent has chosen will be blocked.

Understanding Television Ratings

Programming is blocked based on the rating that the show has received. Parents have the freedom to choose the appropriate rating for their child. Any show that has a rating above this selection cannot be viewed when the V-chip is activated.

Here is an overview of the meaning of each rating.

  • TV-Y is appropriate for children of all ages.
  • TV-Y7 has been deemed appropriate for children over the age of 7.
  • TV-G is appropriate for all ages.
  • TV-PG means that parental guidance is suggested.
  • TV-14 contains violence or sexual situations that should only be viewed by people who are at least 14.
  • TV-MA is only appropriate for mature audiences. Language, violence and sexual content are all common with this rating.

The Benefits of Using a V-Chip

Why would a parent want to use a V-chip? Blocking certain channels or programs can help parents keep their children from viewing inappropriate material when they are not in the room to prevent this themselves. V-chips are particularly useful when children have access to a television in their room. The blocking feature will prevent children from turning on programs that are known to show violence or sexually explicit content.

Parents with children who are old enough to change the V-chip settings on their own can use a password to prevent this from happening. The V-chip settings are typically found under the menu that can be brought up with the remote control.

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