My partner and I are the types of people who like to watch horror or scary movies. We get a sense of enjoyment watching shows like these, but we don’t often get that chance because we have a 3-year-old son who is constantly with us. While we’re guilty of having watched a scary movie with him around, we’re still worried about the effects of scary movies on toddlers.
As an adult, some of these horror movies may seem too unrealistic, and sometimes even downright absurd. But for a child, this can be impactful. In a study about the effects of horror movies on the brain by Dr. Kristen Harrison and Dr. Joanne Canto, they found out that the younger the participants were when they viewed a scary movie, the longer-lasting the effects.
Now, this shouldn’t cause you to panic even if you’ve watched a couple of these scary flicks with your child. You just have to be aware of the effects to help you make an informed decision before deciding on a movie to watch during movie nights.
How Horror Movies Affect The Brain
Children and teenagers are more susceptible to developing anxieties from watching scary movies. Typically, a child will feel uncomfortable after watching something disturbing which can also lead to sleep disturbances and even phobias.
According to a study, the most frequently reported type of phobia-producing stimuli is blood. A participant from the study cited that it wasn’t the shark from the movie Jaws that scared him, but the blood.
Toddlers copy what they see, no matter where they see it, even if it’s on TV. Your kids can model the same aggressive behavior often seen in gory and suspenseful movies. They will copy the behavior because they don’t understand the real consequences of their actions yet.
Additionally, graphic movies mixed with confusing sexual conditions may largely affect an adolescent’s battle with their own identity.
Separation From Reality
Adults have no problem separating fiction from non-fiction, but our kids will have more difficulty in that area. Even as adults, after watching a movie we still feel scared of looking in the mirror or under the bed even if we know that nothing is going to happen. As for our kids, this can be amplified. Make sure you give your kids a big talk about why movies aren’t exactly like the real-life, no matter how authentic it seems.
Prone To Absolutes
Bad versus good, light versus dark, protagonist, and antagonist, and other absolutes that you can think of maybe good for the movies, but they’re definitely not good for our kids. As we all know, life isn’t just black or white. Kids will not understand this concept and may think that if they think what they’re doing is good, then the other things people are doing are bad.
How To Reduce The Effects Of Scary Movies
- Pre-screen movies for the family.
- Monitor what your kids are watching.
- Utilize the parental control on apps and television sets.
- Always be available to discuss their fears after watching a movie.
- Set limits when your child is watching something that you feel inappropriate.
The effects of scary movies on toddlers will still vary from one child to another. But, it’s always good to be informed and to be able to know how you can better protect your child from future difficulties. In some cases, watching scary movies can be helpful for kids as it helps them know how to face their fears and handle difficult situations. Just be sure keep these things in mind and know where to draw the line.