Horror Movies and Children: NOT a Good Mix

Halloween is quickly approaching.  Soon, images of zombies, witches, skeletons, and all sorts of scary beings will be commonplace.  Haunted houses, corn mazes, and Halloween parties are certain to be on the list of “things to do” for most adults.  It’s also that time of the year when scary movies inundate every television channel.

What many adults fail to realize is that these scary “horror” movies are often viewed by children that are too young to understand the “Hollywood magic” that goes on behind the scenes.  Though this writer considers it incredibly irresponsible for parents to allow their young children to watch these types of movies, it can often happen during sleepovers, while an older sibling is caring for the child, or simply while the child is “unsupervised.”

According to the summary of a study that looked at the psychological effects of horror movies on children,

Toddlers and young children who watch violent movies, including Halloween horror films, television shows or video games may be more likely to develop anxiety, sleep disorders, and aggressive and self-endangering behaviors. The Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center study, which was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), was presented on Oct. 28 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry in San Diego.  (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061031113446.htm#)

Scary-movie-watchingWith that being said, please be aware of the potential trauma you may be causing to your child by allowing him or her to watch these types of movies.  The danger in doing so has nothing to do with your child’s potential to become a serial killer in the future….but to instead have long lasting psychological effects such as anxiety, sleep problems, and other such issues.  The ratings are there for a reason…I suggest abiding by them and making sure your child does as well.