It's a fact: More than one in three moms allow their kid to watch fright flicks. Read on for the effect it has on children.
Shocked? We sure are! But those are the results of a new study released Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
When researchers asked 6,522 children if they had seen movies from a list of 534 films made in the past few years, focusing on 40 R-rated movies with "the most extreme examples of graphic violence," they found that, on average, 12.5% of kids had seen each movie.
How can this be? Well, more than one in three parents say they let their kid watch R-rated movies "sometimes" or "all the time." And even among kids who said their parents never let them watch, 22.6% had seen at least one scary movie (although it was unclear whether they were watched on the Internet, in a theater, or at a friend's home).It's possible moms underestimate how scary these movies are, or they may overestimate how mature their child is. Either way, shouldn't parents be monitoring what kids are watching? After all, previous research shows kids with TVs in their bedroom see more violent movies, and other studies find violent entertainment increases aggression among kids, even jading them when it comes to violence in real life--could this explain all the recent reports of teen hazing? And shockingly, many violent films are marketed during kids' TV shows.
Why do kids like this stuff anyway? Is it fun to be scared, or do they watch because it's plain taboo?
•"The most common reason kids love horror movies is because it's a way for them to process their fear," says child psychologist Frances Walfish, Psy.D. "In reality, they're scared of the images, but by forcing themselves to look, they're subconsciously trying to conquer their fear."
•"Another reason many boys watch horror is because of peer pressure to 'brave it'," adds Walfish. "There are also children who get a thrill out of watching horror as a way to channel their aggressive impulses--but not to worry, we all have them. We usually channel them through playing sports or having a heated debate."
•"When evaluating whether a film is suitable for your kid, don't think in terms of age," advises Walfish. "Consider who your child is: Can he handle the content? Will he be influenced by the violence? Does she have sleep problems?"
•Also, ask yourself what type of personality your kid has. Does he act out in class? Obey rules and boundaries? If the answer is no, he's probably not mature enough to view these types of films.
•"The bottom line is, most kids under the age of 12 are not ready to see violence and gore in movies because it's confusing and fearful," Walfish says. "However, you know your kid best, so it's your judgment call."
Do you think movies affect kids' behavior? At what age should they be allowed to watch violent, graphic content?