Kids’ doctors on letting children watch horror movies

Kids’ doctor in Gastonia, NC

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With Halloween approaching, there are more and more horror movies on TV, Netflix and in the theaters, and you may be thinking of asking your kids’ doctor if you should let your children see them. There’s a lot of concern over what effect violence and frightening images can have on children. Possibly you’ve seen the German anti-media-violence ad showing Hannibal Lecter, the clown from the 1990 It, other horror icons, and characters from war and gangster movies dubbed to look like they’re signing a lullaby. (If you haven’t, watch it on YouTube. It’s memorable.) And it is true that a child who sees something too much for him or her can develop anxiety or phobias that take years to overcome.

The short, not terribly helpful answer is you should trust your own instincts and your own knowledge of the child in question. If a child is easily frightened or uncomfortable with scenes of conflict or betrayal, and especially if that child has previously been frightened watching non-horror movies and TV shows, it’s better to wait until he or she is a little older. If a child is particularly sensitive to surprises and loud noises, it’s also a good idea to wait — as despised as “jump scares” are by horror aficionados, many horror movies make use of them. And if you don’t think your child is ready for a movie or TV show, make sure they’ll upstairs and in bed before you watch it yourself — a scare they’re not expecting can be much more traumatizing than one they already knew was coming. 

Younger children and older children

With children under the age of ten, you should let them know that this is going to be scary, but that nothing of what they’re about to see is real. One way to defuse some of the terrors is to look for books or videos on the making of horror movies.

With older children and teenagers, especially those who have expressed an interest in watching horror movies, there is a lot less risk of trauma. This is especially true if they watch it among friends. Finally, if your child is at all reluctant to watch, listen to him or her. The thing about horror movies is that they are entirely voluntary. There are enough real-life horrors out there that children and adults can’t avoid.

A kids’ doctor in Gastonia, NC

Gastonia Pediatric Associates is a kids’ doctor conveniently located west of Charlotte. It is one of the first medical practices for children in the Gastonia area, has served three generations of families with personalized care and offers medical advice for parents 24 hours a day. Its staff includes three physicians and three nursing staff. Gastonia Pediatrics is owned and directed by its own physicians. If you need a kids’ doctor, call today.