Classification of 3D film

On 19 and 20 May in The Hague, NICAM organised a conference in which more than 30 film classification experts and representatives of film classification bodies from 11 European countries, as well as Australia and Singapore, took part. The participants from Europe came from England, Ireland, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Austria, Portugal , Hungary and the European Commission.
NICAM set up an intensive programme for the participants at the conference. On the first day, representatives from nine national film classification bodies reported on the latest developments in their countries. NICAM itself presented an overview of new activities, such as Buro240a and the pilot MediaSmarties project. 
Prof. Patti Valkenburg, a member of NICAM’s Science Committee, gave an presentation on the introduction of the 9 years age classification for Kijkwijzer.   
The second day of the conference took place partly at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, where implementation in the various European Member States of the recently issued European Directive Audiovisual Media Services was discussed. This discussion, chaired by Prof. Nico van Eijk, was introduced by Marcel Boulogne of the audiovisual policy unit of the European Commission, and was further explained by Prof. Madeleine de Cock Buning of the Media Authority.

The morning session of 20 May in Pathé Buitenhof focused on the spectacular development of 3D film and the potential consequences for film classification: a topic film classification bodies in several countries are currently grappling with. At present, there are more questions than answers in this particular area. In Sweden, separate classification of films brought out in 3D and 2D versions is being considered. In Portugal, the screening of 3D films such as Avatar has led to warnings in the media from medical specialists.  

University of Amsterdam professor and former member of NICAM’s Science Committee, Ed Tan, presented both the initial, provisional findings of his own research into the effects of 3D film screenings, and a number of partial results of a recent public survey carried out by NICAM. Although the number of adults and children who have seen a 3D film – and are therefore in a position to express an opinion – is growing, it is currently still a minority. 

Ed Tan has concluded that 3D can in fact have effects. These are principally related to greater impact,  for example in the form of exciting or frightening effects. Watching 3D images can also have physical consequences, and headaches are sometimes reported. The distance of the viewer from the screen is very important to the 3D experience, as has been demonstrated by Tan’s research. He has also concluded that there is at present not yet sufficient clarity to draw any definitive conclusions:  such as the long-term physical consequences of repeated exposure to 3D, and whether the effects can be related to the age of a child.

Parents not yet concerned
The NICAM survey revealed that a small majority (51%) of parents are not very concerned about the effects of 3D and see no reason to classify these films more strictly. 
According to Ed Tan, however, there are sufficient grounds to take a good look at the 3D phenomenon. In anticipation of the results of more thorough research, he proposes that the general public should in any event be clearly informed if a film is being screened in a 3D format. Because, in his opinion, we will see a lot more 3D in the future; it is not a temporary hype, but a growth area. 
The conference participants concluded that further research into and experience with 3D is needed, before we can conclude that 3D films should be classified differently from 2D films.

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All ages

All ages (AL) means that a film, series or television show contains no harmful imagery.

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6 years

The age category 6 years was developed to protect young children from scary and violent imagery. Young children are especially sensitive to this kind of material.

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9 years

Once children are around the age of 9, they are better able to understand whether films or series are real. That's why some productions are rated 9 years and older.

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12 years

When children are between 10 and 12 years old, they start to look differently at the world around them. Still, children around this age are more easily affected by content than teenagers.

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14 years

At this age, children start to use film and television to learn 'social' lessons, like: how to be yourself? And how to interact with others? Watching dangerous behaviour on screen can therefore cause issues at this age. 

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16 years

Although 16-year olds are better able to understand the difference between good and bad, this doesn't mean they can just watch any film or series without trouble.

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18 years

The age rating 18 years and older indicates that a film or television show is for adults only. 

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When children see violence, it can make them aggressive, scared or desensitized to violence. The chance at these kind of effects is influenced by a few things, like: how realistic is the violence? Is there blood or gore? Is violence rewarded? 

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Scary images can frighten children, make them restless or even cause long-term effects like nightmares. The effects vary depending on the viewer and the viewer's age. 

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Children and teens that are in the middle of their (sexual) development, are not always ready to see sexual scenes. They may also be unable to interpret them correctly. Kijkwijzer takes this into consideration. How explicit a sex scene is determines the final age rating.

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Coarse language

Coarse language consists of cussing and cursing, suggestive terms or sexual expletives. Children may imitate the use of offensive language and even incorporate it in their vocabulary.

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Discrimination is any expression that suggests (a group of) people are 'inferior' in some way, for example on the basis of skin colour, religion, sexuality, sex or gender, nationality or ethnicity. If a production contains discrimination and the discriminatory action is not immediately condemned, the icon for discrimination is depicted.

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Smoking, alcohol and drugs

If hard drugs are used in a production - or (a lot of) alcohol, soft drugs or tobacco - the Kijkwijzer icon for smoking, alcohol and drugs is depicted. Teenagers can start to see the use as something that's normal, or even as something worth trying. 

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The game contains depictions of violence. In games rated PEGI 7 this can only be non-realistic or non-detailed violence. Games rated PEGI 12 can include violence in a fantasy environment or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters, whereas games rated PEGI 16 or 18 have increasingly more realistic-looking violence.​


This descriptor may appear as 'Fear' on games with a PEGI 7 if it contains pictures or sounds that may be frightening or scary to young children, or as 'Horror' on higher-rated games that contain moderate (PEGI 12) or intense and sustained (PEGI 16) horror sequences or disturbing images (not necessarily including violent content).


This content descriptor can accompany a PEGI 12 rating if the game includes sexual posturing or innuendo, a PEGI 16 rating if there is erotic nudity or sexual intercourse without visible genitals or a PEGI 18 rating if there is explicit sexual activity in the game. Depictions of nudity in a non-sexual context do not require a specific age rating, and this descriptor would not be necessary.


The game refers to or depicts the use of illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco. Games with this content descriptor are always PEGI 16 or PEGI 18.


The game contains depictions of ethnic, religious, nationalistic or other stereotypes likely to encourage hatred. This content is always restricted to a PEGI 18 rating (and likely to infringe national criminal laws).

Bad language

The game contains bad language. This descriptor can be found on games with a PEGI 12 (mild swearing), PEGI 16 (e.g. sexual expletives or blasphemy) or PEGI 18 rating (e.g. sexual expletives or blasphemy).




Video games that show violence of a slightly more graphic nature towards fantasy characters or non-realistic violence towards human-like characters would fall in this age category. Sexual innuendo or sexual posturing can be present, while any bad language in this category must be mild.


This rating is applied once the depiction of violence (or sexual activity) reaches a stage that looks the same as would be expected in real life. The use of bad language in games with a PEGI 16 rating can be more extreme, while the use of tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs can also be present.


The adult classification is applied when the level of violence reaches a stage where it becomes a depiction of gross violence, apparently motiveless killing, or violence towards defenceless characters. The glamorisation of the use of illegal drugs and of the simulation of gambling, and explicit sexual activity should also fall into this age category. 


The game contains elements that encourage or teach gambling. These simulations of gambling refer to games of chance that are normally carried out in casinos or gambling halls. 

In-game purchases

The game offers players the option to purchase digital goods or services with real-world currency. Such purchases include additional content (bonus levels, outfits, surprise items, music), but also upgrades (e.g. to disable ads), subscriptions to updates, virtual coins and other forms of in-game currency.

If this icon is accompanied by the notice Paid Random Items, the in-game purchases may consist of offers where the player doesn't know precisely what they are buying prior to purchase (i.e. loot boxes or card packs). 

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