Alex hasn't watched the M-rated Spiderman for about 6 months. We had let him watch bits of it under supervision for a while, but the boundaries kept getting pushed back and it became a bit hard to police. After a spurt of what we saw as possible 'copycat' behaviour we realised that a blanket ban was called for.
Alex took it pretty well, all things considered. He likes to know where he stands and is a rules boy, after all. When we explained the ratings system - that M-rated things are only for grown-ups, PG is for older kids if their parents say yes, and G is for any one - he seemed fine with it. We also described in some details the reasons why M rated things were for adults, namely that they showed bombs, guns and other stuff that could give kids nightmares, or stuff that kids would find boring or wouldn't be able to understand easily.
He then proceeded to find a loophole in the system by locating the one Spiderman cartoon DVD that is in fact G-rated (even though it features a scary-looking baddie called Venom). We've let him watch it on occasion until such time as his behaviour indicates it's not doing him any favours. He displayed a remarkable understanding of the ratings system recently by commenting, "Mum, I don't know why this Spiderman cartoon is G. It's got lots of bombs and fighting and things. It really should be PG at least." I asked him if he thought that meant he should stop watching it, and he assured me that, no, it was ok, he could handle it.
Recently we went out and my mum came over to baby-sit. Alex, like the cat that ate the canary, convinced her to let him watch some of the M-rated Spiderman while we were out. I can imagine his saucer-like eyes and the illicit thrill of getting away with something so devious!
When we came home and it was revealed that Nan had allowed him to watch it, Nan and Alex were each quick to point the finger at each other. Nan claimed Alex had told her he was allowed to watch it. Alex just shrugged and said "Well YOU let me."
Today he further emphasised his point by commenting, "Nan is the grown-up and I am the kid. The grown-up gets to say yes or no if a kid can watch something or not. Nan said I could. If she didn't want me to she should have said no."
He also told me that Peter Parker's Uncle Ben says "With great power comes great responsibility." I asked him if he knew what that meant. His eyes glinted. "Yes" he replied, "but I'm not telling you right now."
I guess I'll just have to wait to find out.