Random Things in Motion #16: I’m a Content Warning Rebel

random things in motion

Random Things in Motion is where we share all of our random thoughts at the moment.

As you guys (probably) know, I’m only fifteen. I started blogging at 13, and I started reading full-length novels at 11.

I was exposed to mature themes at a young age (fourth grade, to be exact) because of a handful of older kids who ride the same bus home as I do. And because of that, I’ve never really been bothered when I read mature themes in books. Sex, drugs, alcohol–I’m okay with reading all of that, and I *think* that it hasn’t affected me badly as a person.

Which leads me to why I don’t bother reading content warnings. I know a lot of blogs (even here at The Social Potato) have content warnings in their reviews to avoid getting the books across to the wrong audience, and I totally respect that because I know a lot of readers are more cautious readers than I am. But I don’t read them.

I read my first adult read (Halfway to the Grave, which is one of my all-time favorite books) when I was twelve.

I know that even if I’m not an adult yet, as long as I can handle reading these books maturely, I’m game for anything. My parents are, too, actually. My mom knows I’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey, and she’s okay with that because she knows nothing bad came out of it. My dad’s also an avid movie fan, and sometimes he lets me watch the more mature movies with him.

Content warnings have never stopped me from reading a book. (But they do stop me from reading some 18+ only blogs because Google knows I’m 15.)

So I’m very curious:

  • If you’re a young teen, do you read books with mature themes?
  • If you’re an adult, do you think it’s okay for young teens to read these kinds of books?
  • If you’re a parent, do you let your kids read these, or do you take content warnings to heart?
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Aimee is a sixteen year old bookworm from the Phillipines! She reads any book that catches her attention, but she mostly reads YA. She's into graphic design, writing and sleeping. You can find her at Deadly Darlings, The Book Geek, Goodreads and on Twitter.

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  1. says

    I’m almost 19 now, but I started blogging when I was 13 or 14, and before that, I’d read Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series, which wasn’t AWFUL in terms of mature content, but it was definitely there. I’ll admit that I don’t think my dad ever actually knew about any of that, haha. But that’s probably why I never see a problem with age and books, because that kind of stuff never affected me in a negative way and it obviously didn’t to you either. So I think it’s really just all about preference and how sensitive you are to that kind of stuff. People who try to 100% control their kid’s reading though? I feel like they’re just digging themselves into a hole there.
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  2. says

    So I’m in my 20s, but I grew up reading/watching things similar to you. I’m an only child and my mother was a single working mother for a while, so I was left to my own devices A LOT. I was able to watch whatever I wanted on television (and let’s just say I watched things most parents would probably be horrified by lol), read whatever I wanted, and listen to whatever music I wanted to. I was exposed to things that were intended for far more mature audiences, and it didn’t harm me at all. Honestly, I learned most things about life from consuming more mature media. There were definitely times when I wasn’t able to understand what was going on in a book or show (even as a teen), but I eventually learned.

    On the one hand, I think it’s 100% okay for teens to read whatever and some of them might need that, but I also think it’s dependent on the person. Some people are much more vulnerable than others, so what might be innocent for one could be harmful for another. Ultimately I think that’s up to the parent and their child. to decide what’s appropriate and what isn’t.

    This is a great topic, by the way! I hope my reply made some sort of sense :)
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  3. says

    Great post, Aimee! And I definitely go into the parent category here ;) I do write content warnings on my own blog, but that’s for other people, not for me. I, too, know that a lot of people don’t want to read about sex or drugs or violence, so I try to be nice to them.
    I let my kids read whatever they want to read, and if they read a book I haven’t read yet, I’ll read it too – it makes for some really good conversations! I have kids that are a little in between now, though. My oldest is 20, so she’s definitely not a kid anymore, but she’s always been allowed to read whatever book she thought she’d enjoy. My youngest is 10, and not a very good reader, but she loves stories, so I’m always looking for audiobooks for her. The last book she listened to was Matilda by Roald Dahl, so not exactly mature, but I’m sure the day will come sooner than I think.
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  4. says

    I am 26 and I think it is okay for young adults to read about mature topics. In books, they can see adult stuff from various POVs and maybe even learn from mistakes of book characters, seeing all those consequences of bad decisions adults sometimes make. So yeah, I do think books with mature topics are eye opening experience for teenagers. I have been reading Stephen King and other adult authors since I was 12 /13/14 and it helped to understand a lot of adult stuff I wasnt aware of before.
    And it is so frustrating that Google is being such a pain in a.. about their adult policy. Only because I review adult books from time to time (nothing taboo or shocking), Blogger applied 18+ warning on my blog and I am sad about losing some potential under 18 readers because of it :(
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  5. says

    Aww. I always thought I’m more rebel than you but you win this round Aimee. :D I always read Content Warnings because I’m scared of triggers. And if you’re a reader who doesn’t read content warnings, I don’t think there’s something wrong with that BUT I think you should do the warning. Especially if the book you’re reading deals with heavy stuff. Great post Aimee :D
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  6. says

    I’m 17 and I remember that at the age of 14 almost the same as you Aimee :) I started reading books, tho I have to admit that these books were more YA than adult or mature in nature. By 15 that was when I was introduced to books that have really mature content (i.e sex, drugs, violence etc) and as a teen. I don’t think it affected me in a bad way, one thing I know for sure I won’t touch drugs. EVER. But the good part about reading these kind of books made me more understand to those who were doing these things in real life. I have to admit that I still have my limits, and when its too much. Its too much. But these books gave me a more in depth understanding, and honestly it helped me gain a lot of friends, because I never judged them harshly for our differences (I have a lot of friends who thought I was a goody goody person because I was always a stay at home girl and a reader hahaha guess again huh?)

    But the saddest part about this kind of thing is the parents. My mom and dad know I read books that have mature content, but I don’t really get to the nitty gritty with them about it. They’re pretty protective of me and are afraid that what I read will badly affect my personality and mind. As far as I know getting into college gives you the most weirdest stories as it is. (Let me tell you, I have heard a lot from the past months in college and it is weird). So if ever the time comes that I become a parent, I wouldn’t overly protect my child over reading something w/ mature content, I’ll just make sure that they are guided through it. :)
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  7. says

    You’re fabulous Aimee and one of the most intelligent and well adjusted teens I know. Your maturity is incredible.

    As a reader, I’d like for teens to be exposed to a whole range of genres, including adult (after all, most of the world’s greatest classics are classed as adult fiction). Having said that (and I’ll put my thirty five year old pants on now), but I don’t believe teens should be reading erotica. Of course it won’t hurt you, but it’s sexually explicit and I wouldn’t like my teen daughter watching pornography, which is what I liken it to. I can understand with a well known novel such as Fifty Shades of Grey and teens being curious to what all the buzz is about, but I’d be horrified if my early teen daughter was reading it to be honest, which shows how closed minded I am. For me, it comes down to the sexualisation of teens and erotica isn’t a realistic viewpoint of sex. It really does depend on what’s age appropriate for the individual teen though, but when it comes to erotica, I think it really should be for of age readers only.
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  8. says

    I’m not a fan of content warnings at all. I know why they exist and I realize some parents appreciate them, but I’m mostly just happy that my kid wants to read and not just play videogames and watch TV. Like you, I started reading adult books very young, and guess what? I’m still reading. I don’t feel particularly damaged, but then again, who knows? :)
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  9. says

    I’ve always been a mature reader. I was never read to as a kid (it just never occurred to my parents) and when I started reading when I was young I was left to my own devices a lot at bookstores so I eventually started branching out the of MG section and picking up things I definitely shouldn’t have at that age.
    I’m also a huge movie addict and I was always watching movies that weren’t for me at a young age either. I don’t regret it though *wink* haha.
    I never read content warnings and I don’t include them in my blog. It’s just never occurred to me and I figure that if someone is looking for a review for a precise book, they are going to read it regardless of whether or not it’s for their age group. Great discussion post AImee!
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  10. says

    I ignore content warnings buuuut, I’m 21 so I’ve kind of long since passed that feeling. xD Although, when I was younger, yep, my life was pretty much ruled by content warnings. *le sigh* I had extremely conservative/protective parents (although thank god they’ve loosened up now, lol) and I was basically only reading MG style stuff until I was 15. Then BOOM WELCOME TO THE DARK SIDE OF YA. *cackles manically* But you are definitely mature to be handling heavy books even from 11 (!!) so I basically will just bow to you and reflect on my Roald Dahl childhood. hehe.
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  11. says

    I’m like you Aimee. I’ve always been a mature reader, and I see nothing wrong with that. If a teen is generally responsible and mature, there’s nothing wrong with them picking what books they want to read.

    I think the other end of it is that reading “mature” books really helps you see right and wrong. If you’ve read books about substance abuse, for example, you’re less likely to try it if you’re pressured into it by your friends because you know the consequences.

    Thanks for sharing Aimee and, as always, fabulous discussion post! ♥
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  12. says

    What’s funny for me is that I had the reverse effect – I’m more cautious of what I read now than when I was a youngin’! I was… 14… I think, when I started reading Stephen King and other adult novels. I ended up scaring the crap out of myself and losing all joy for reading – I just wanted something more lighthearted and less pessimistic (most adult books I read were pretty fatalistic in tone). Now that I’m more widely read in YA, I’ve come to embrace the harder subjects, and even seek them out at times. But now I’m just smart about it, and read one heavy/dark/mature book for each lighter book – or I switch to a different genre.
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  13. says

    When I was younger I never paid much attention to content warnings either. The content did not really bother me so I feel pretty much the same way you do. If I were a parent I don’t think I would put restrictions and such on any book but I think there are a few exceptions. I think it’s great that people are reading in general, no matter what the book is. Nice post!
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  14. says

    Hmm. I am an adult(I think lol) but this has thing has never come to mind until I met Fifty Shades of Grey. Growing up, my parents didn’t prohibit me to watching or reading those that has mature contents. Rather, they explain to me things though they tend to get irritated a bit because I ask too many follow-up questions lol So I think that’s the reason why I don’t mind content warnings too much. I take notice of them but mostly because I want to know what it features(sex, drugs, alcohol, profanity, etc.)

    Now, as an adult(mostly lol), I think it’s okay for young teens to read those that has content warnings AS LONG AS they know that they can handle it, know what’s in-store for them, and know that it’s just a book. I think it’s better for them to discover such things through reading rather than exploring it themselves.
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  15. says

    I never really paid attention to age limits when I was younger either. I’m 21 at the moment, but even when I was in primary/early high school, I read adult novels. Granted, I skipped some of the really mature scenes (lol as I sometimes even do now if they’re too graphic to be honest XD). I feel like it’s okay as long as the person knows what they’re going into. I mean, I wouldn’t hand 50 Shades over to a ten year old or anything, but a fifteen year old probs knows more about the sexual content side of things
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  16. says

    First of all, thank you Aimee for saying what’s been on my mind for quite a long time now. I believe in content warnings and I think it’s a pretty helpful tool for readers especially the young ones out there. But at the same time, age doesn’t define the maturity of a mind.

    I’m only 15 but I’ve read some pretty racy and violent books here in there. Actually let me broaden that — I’ve been exposed to the more PG side of entertainment. And as you said, nothing bad ever came from it! I just handled it normally.
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  17. says

    As a teenager, I was always the one reading books that I thought adults didn’t want me to read :)
    When I started blogging, I did a few content warnings, because I thought parents might read the blog looking for books for their kids. But that didn’t last long — I’d write the review and then couldn’t remember what to put in the content warning. Was there swearing? Drug use? Sex? Often I had no idea. I think there are other great resources for parents who have content concerns, but I stopped doing them long ago, except to note if a book I review is not categorized as YA.
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  18. says

    I never really heeded the content warnings or gone for the age recommendations in books, not as kid, a teen and even less now as an adult. I know they can be useful, but I think it’s important to take them with a grain of salt.

    I love that your parents are aware of what you read and know that you’re mature enough to handle reading or watching adult stuff. My parents never really restricted my reading at all, so I agree with them!
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  19. says

    This is a very great discussion post, I have read romance novels with mature themes when I was around 13 years old as well, they were avaliable in the library and no one stopped me. Now I’m turning 22, and I’m quite use to it. I don’t believe these themes have affected me personally although, I am much more open minded but that could mainly be because of my own personality and not the books.
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  20. says

    Adult here.

    I am in the mindset that bad choices comes from the lack of education on these issues, such as sex, drugs, etc etc. I have so many YA books that I wish I would have had when I was a teen. Some YA books are rough, but how can we expect teens to survive in the world if they are sheltered for 18 years? I get so frustrated to see young adults go off to college when it is their first experience with freedom. They go crazy with it, and who can blame them?

    I’m all for giving them the tougher stuff. It does depend on the reader, but there comes a point where shelter becomes potential failure.
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  21. says

    I’m so like you! I’ve been reading YA since I was like, 8, before I even knew that Young Adult was a thing, before I had more of an opinion on books and would just read book after book. I haven’t read too many adult books but I have read some and I have read some NA.

    I feel like knowing about sex, drugs and such doesn’t affect me negatively and didn’t at an even younger age. I read Crank by Ellen Hopkins when I was 12. It’s all about drugs and sex and some rape etc but I feel like it’s bettered me rather than affect me negatively. It made me see that I really don’t ever wanna try drugs more than any school presentations or articles ever has.

    So ya, cursing, sex, drugs doesn’t really matter to me in a novel (sometimes in movies if they start getting really kinky. Especially if I’m watching with my parents).

    ~Fari 0:)
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  22. says

    haha I love how you are so open about it!

    I have a few thoughts on this – I wasn’t a huge reader when I was a teen but I honestly think I would be like you and read whatever I wanted, regardless of age and content. HOWEVER. As a mama bear, I fear what MY kids are reading. Example – one day shopping, my son bought a book that I saw around the blogospere, but never read reviews for, let alone read the book myself. And that book was SO GORY I was horrified that he read it.

    Not only that – I actually started a new blog so that I wasn’t mixing YA with NA/Adult books WITH mature content. I think it all depends on your maturity and life experiences.

    I feel that if you are comfortable reading mature content, go for it! As long as you can handle it and your parents are okay with it! :)
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  23. says

    First, I think it is fabulous that your parents are so great about all of it. It is quite clear that you can be trusted and are mature enough to deal with such topics, so I am very happy that they notice it too- and of course, they kind of deserve a pat on the back, since clearly they are doing a lot right in the world of parenting! (Maybe they give me a call, give me some tips ;) )

    So. As an adult (ha, that’s almost laughable) and a parent (scary too), I agree with you. I won’t censor what my kids read at all. As for movies and stuff, I think as long as it’s not like, insanely offensive, I won’t really care either. As long as, like you, they are mature enough to handle it. But, they’re really young (3 and 1) so that is a LONG way off). My parents were quite liberal about that kind of stuff too. I was also insanely trustworthy, and never gave them cause to worry. I mean, they kind of figured we heard worse stuff (ironically, just like you said) on the bus, at school, etc, so I mean, READING was not a bad place to stumble upon things. A book was preferable to some jerky older kid on the bus!

    Content warnings never stopped me either, nor did I pay any attention (though, I also didn’t have as much access to that sort of thing, since book blogs and Goodreads weren’t around)! I RARELY do content warnings on my blog, unless it is something that could really be a trigger and/or it wasn’t at ALL clear in the description or synopsis. This is a fabulous post!
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  24. says

    This is such an interesting topic! I have been exposed to mature themes in books and movies from a very young age, I saw Pretty Woman when I was four! (I don’t think I “got it” until I was much older lol) and I was reading crime and thrillers from a very young age because my dad was a voracious reader and he always had a pile of books in the bathroom! Now that I’m older I am more protective over younger people reading certain themes, I think it’s just something innate in you that increases as you are exposed to more adult matters as an actual adult because they are affecting you in a different ways. I was quite a mature young person so could deal with certain themes without them affecting me personally but I know other friends weren’t quite so capable of differentiating so I think it’s very much an individual thing and everyone’s experience is different so while I would monitor what any kids in my care are exposed to I would respect their maturity and emotional levels too and allow them to make their decisions as my parents did for me.
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  25. says

    If you’re a young teen, do you read books with mature themes?
    When I was a teenager (which feels like a very long time ago now), I used to read erotica/adult books too recommended by my classmates. Back then, we try to avoid reading them in public because you know the book covers are indecent for teenagers like us. Unlike now that you can read these kind of books in Kindle and no one will know. LOL. Aside from erotica books, I also enjoyed reading Battle Royale (which was the most gruesome book I ever read back then) and Stephen Kings books.

    If you’re an adult, do you think it’s okay for young teens to read these kinds of books?
    I guess, as long as they have the correct guidance and they’re mature enough to understand the meaning of it, then why not? If they read FSoG and they think that hurting your partner is sexy then they definitely need some guidance.

    If you’re a parent, do you let your kids read these, or do you take content warnings to heart?
    I’m not a parent yet but I have a niece and I try my best to filter the shows and movies that we watch with her.
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