Young Children and Horror Movies: Possible Abuse?

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posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:06 AM
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Greetings, ATS!

As many of you already know, I’m an elementary school teacher with a fascination about the human brain and its development.

A couple of days ago I asked my students (first grade-ages 6-7) about Friday the 13th. Specifically, I asked if they knew the reason the date was considered unlucky.

Several of my students replied, “That’s when Jason was born.”

I was flabbergasted. I questioned them further and found the following:

Of the 18 students in my class, 14 had seen horror films such as the Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, etc. Of these 14 students, all indicated they had watched the movies with their parents or older siblings and had done so multiple times.

Now, this is not the first time I’ve encountered students who regularly watch horror films. Ask just about any middle school student about the horror film industry and they can give you endless examples from their favorite gore flick. But first graders watching people mutilated and killed on screen? This disturbed me greatly.

Since that day I’ve done some research on the effects of horror films and violent video games on young children. (Please note, while many cartoons are violent in themselves (poor Coyote), the films mentioned below are NOT cartoons). Here’s what I’ve uncovered so far:
 Anxiety (both short and long term)
 Sleeplessness (immediate but can continue for up to a year)
 Fear (nightmares, night terrors, fear of losing control, fear of dying)
 Phobia (clowns. Need I say more?)
 Sleep disorders (long-term)
 Aggressive and possibly self-edangering behaviors
 Potential for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

To truly understand the effects of violent television or video games on the young child, we must understand the psychology and development of young children.
 Young children (ages range from 3-6, depending on child) are extremely literal. They are often unable to differentiate from fact vs fiction, and accept everything at face value. While this can lead to some hilarious situations, it does mean that when these children view violence via tv or games, it can have a lasting impact.
 When children are constantly exposed to violence, they become desensitized. This is the same phenomenon that happens with drug addicts. Once an addict becomes desensitized, they require more of the drug to feel the effects. Children and teens who are desensitized to violence….I’ll let you draw the parallels.

So what should we do? First of all, parents PLEASE don’t let your young child view violent horror films. Observe the movie rating system. Preview the movie first. If you feel your child can handle the movie, then be sure to discuss with them afterwards what they saw and the reality of it. Be ready for probing questions, and do your best to answer them truthfully.

Infants and toddlers should not watch television at all, if possible. At this age, the children are drawn more towards the vibrant colors and movement of the program and not so much to the content of the program. Some studies show a possible link between ADHD and early television viewing, but the jury is still out on that connection.

So, ATS….should allowing young children to watch horror movies constitute abuse? Hard question to answer.
Myself, I'm hesitant to qualify it as abuse because I think its based on ignorance and would be extremely difficult to prove logistics reasons. However, I do hope we can educate parents on the dangers of the horror movie industry on impressionable minds. Next year I will be conducting a parent training in my county about the effects of television on young minds, and I have great hopes this will help parents understand the potential problems involved.

Thoughts?

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posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:16 AM
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Ha! My younger brother used to love Jason Voorhee's. They were his favourite movies when he was a Pre'Schooler. My parents are kind of warped. They bought him a toy chainsaw for Christmas when he was three. Most kids would want the toy to pretend they were like their Dad,pretend to cut wood. My brother identified it with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie
He even had a mask.

He is an adult now. Not only is he well adjusted but he is the best person I know ten fold. I guess it depends on the kid.
edit on 15-4-2012 by Germanicus because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:24 AM
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Originally posted by Germanicus
Ha! My younger brother used to love Jason Voorhee's. They were his favourite movies when he was a Pre'Schooler. My parents are kind of warped. They bought him a toy chainsaw for Christmas when he was three. Most kids would want the toy to pretend they were like their Dad,pretend to cut wood. My brother identified it with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie
He even had a mask.

He is an adult now. Not only is he well adjusted but he is the best person I know ten fold. I guess it depends on the kid.
edit on 15-4-2012 by Germanicus because: (no reason given)


It very much depends on the child. Some kids can handle it, some can't.

By the way, did you know that the most violent time in a person's life is usually when they are around 4-6? Its true. Little kids will make weapons out of anything. Our school has a "no play guns" policy, so on the playground instead of playing guns, they play FBI and tasers.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:24 AM
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reply to post by smyleegrl
 
I'd have to disagree with your premise.

it all depends upon the context of the setting, the family, the child.

the blanket statements about harming a childs psyche are just that. Blanket statements.

Not all children are negatively affected.

I think there are quite a few that can discern fantasy from reality.

If you disagree, then fine.

But I hope you'll leave the decision making to the parents.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:29 AM
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reply to post by smyleegrl
 


I've been watching and playing violent and scary video games and movies since I was in 1st grade. Maybe earlier. Yes, I am more desensitized to violent and scary MEDIA. If I saw a guy murdering someone, I wouldn't watch and do nothing. I would call the police. If I saw a snuff film, I would call the police. If I saw a movie where people were murdered, I wouldn't do anything. If a parent decides to let their children see a horror movie, they need to explain that it's not real. Though my parents never did that for me, I'm still a functioning member of society. Everything that is wrong with my today is due to stress and an anxiety disorder, both completely irrelevant to my being exposed to violence and horror at an early age. Some children just don't have a brain that can handle it.
edit on 1/7/12 by Avalessa because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:29 AM
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Originally posted by beezzer
reply to post by smyleegrl
 
I'd have to disagree with your premise.

it all depends upon the context of the setting, the family, the child.

the blanket statements about harming a childs psyche are just that. Blanket statements.

Not all children are negatively affected.

I think there are quite a few that can discern fantasy from reality.

If you disagree, then fine.

But I hope you'll leave the decision making to the parents.



Thank you for the reply. You are right, children are different and the age at which they can "handle" such movies is not set in stone. No one is claiming otherwise.

Unfortunantely, in the area I live in, most parents let the television babysit their children. They aren't making a decision to allow or not allow their children to watch....they are taking a passive role in the process.

There are research studies that do indicate horror movies can have a detrimental effect on young children.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:30 AM
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My kids included, we have 15 little zombie killers aged 7 and younger. They have zombie guns and everything

I grew up watching Freddy.
Nudity(waist down ) is the only thing I censor.


No it's not abuse. And no offense, but if my kids came home telling me the teacher was questioning what goes on in my home, I'd be highly po'ed.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:30 AM
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Double post
edit on 15-4-2012 by showintail because: double post



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:32 AM
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Originally posted by Avalessa
reply to post by smyleegrl
 


I've been watching and playing violent and scary video games and movies since I was in 1st grade. Maybe earlier. Yes, I am more desensitized to violent and scary MEDIA. If I saw a guy murdering someone, I wouldn't watch and do nothing. I would call the police. If I saw a snuff film, I would call the police. If I saw a movie where people were murdered, I wouldn't do anything. If a parent decides to let their children see a horror movie, they need to explain that it's not real. Though my parents never did that for me, I'm still a functioning member of society. Everything that is wrong with my today is due to stress and an anxiety disorder, both completely irrelevant to my being exposed to violence and horror at an early age. Some children just don't have a brain that can handle it.
edit on 1/7/12 by Avalessa because: (no reason given)


Well said.
You are correct. Some can handle it, some can't.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:33 AM
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Can't say I agree. I was watching Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, all those movies around 3 years old. 80s horror movies rocked. They are just movies, as long as a child realizes, or is told the situations are fake what harm is there?



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:33 AM
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I'm with Beezer on this. It all depends on many factors combined.

I watched all those Friday the 13th movies when I was 11-12yrs old and I loved them, they are hysterical. I could discern fantasy from reality though, and I came from a dysfunctional family so horror movies were a nice break from reality. I had worse nightmares before I saw horror movies.

Boys and girls react completely different to movies. I know women in their 30s that are still terrified of Jason Voorhees or Freddy Kruger movies, and 5 year olds who laugh at them. Everyone is a unique individual and no one blanket rule should have to apply to the whole.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:35 AM
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Originally posted by showintail
My kids included, we have 15 little zombie killers aged 7 and younger. They have zombie guns and everything

I grew up watching Freddy.
Nudity(waist down ) is the only thing I censor.


No it's not abuse. And no offense, but if my kids came home telling me the teacher was questioning what goes on in my home, I'd be highly po'ed.


Didn't really have to question it, first graders volunteer everything. Sometimes the difficulty is getting them to hush before they say something really incriminating!

I've had children talk about their parents' smoking and using certain substances, stealing things, etc. I always do my best to change the subject quickly, then talk to that child about the need for discretion and privacy at school.

Plus, little kids get things confused sometimes. You have to take what they say with a heap of salt.

Thanks for the reply!



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:35 AM
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reply to post by smyleegrl
 


Hey smyleegrl!

As someone who grew up watching horror movies from about the age of 7 (Puppet Master was my first) - I'm 29 now - I have no lingering effects from watching them. I'm an elementary teacher myself, and I do find the amount of kids who know who Jason Vorhees, Freddy Kreuger, and Michael Myers interesting. I think a lot of it has to do with the social memory of these "bad guys." They come up from time to time, just as Dracula, the Wolfman, and Frakenstein's Monster came up frequently in previous generations.

I think that with responsible parenting, these movies would be okay with a slightly older crowd than pre-k and kindergarten students. My father always made me cover my eyes when there were sexually explicit scenes, but I was smart enough to realize that the gore was fake, and even inspired me to do horror make up as a hobby.

As with anything like this, I think it's important for the parents to have discussions on these movies. I know that a lot of famous make up artists in the business were inspired from all of these gory movies, and are now making a very good living doing that exact thing.

If the kid is mature enough, I say let them watch the 80's horror flicks. Ya never know, they might end up being the next Eli Roth or Clive Barker.


-TS
edit on 15-4-2012 by truthseeker1984 because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:37 AM
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Originally posted by JibbyJedi
I'm with Beezer on this. It all depends on many factors combined.

I watched all those Friday the 13th movies when I was 11-12yrs old and I loved them, they are hysterical. I could discern fantasy from reality though, and I came from a dysfunctional family so horror movies were a nice break from reality. I had worse nightmares before I saw horror movies.

Boys and girls react completely different to movies. I know women in their 30s that are still terrified of Jason Voorhees or Freddy Kruger movies, and 5 year olds who laugh at them. Everyone is a unique individual and no one blanket rule should have to apply to the whole.


Excellent post. I would just like to point out you were 11-12 years old. The difference in an 11 year old's psyche and a six year old's is huge.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:42 AM
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Originally posted by truthseeker1984
reply to post by smyleegrl
 


Hey smyleegrl!

As someone who grew up watching horror movies from about the age of 7 (Puppet Master was my first) - I'm 29 now - I have no lingering effects from watching them. I'm an elementary teacher myself, and I do find the amount of kids who know who Jason Vorhees, Freddy Kreuger, and Michael Myers interesting. I think a lot of it has to do with the social memory of these "bad guys." They come up from time to time, just as Dracula, the Wolfman, and Frakenstein's Monster came up frequently in previous generations.

I think that with responsible parenting, these movies would be okay with a slightly older crowd than pre-k and kindergarten students. My father always made me cover my eyes when there were sexually explicit scenes, but I was smart enough to realize that the gore was fake, and even inspired me to do horror make up as a hobby.

As with anything like this, I think it's important for the parents to have discussions on these movies. I know that a lot of famous make up artists in the business were inspired from all of these gory movies, and are now making a very good living doing that exact thing.

If the kid is mature enough, I say let them watch the 80's horror flicks. Ya never know, they might end up being the next Eli Roth or Clive Barker.


-TS
edit on 15-4-2012 by truthseeker1984 because: (no reason given)


Well said.

Interesting point about social memory. I'll need to look into that further. Thanks for the tidbit.

I agree, if parents feel their children can handle it and are willing to discuss what occurrs, then let the child watch. Its just parents who don't have any idea what their kids are doing, that concerns me (and not just with watching violent tv).

I remember my grandmother letting me watch Poltergeist when I was about five. Now I can't stand the sight of clowns. Don't know they are connected, but that scene where the clown is missing from the chair still haunts me....



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:43 AM
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I'll be honest and say that I think the kids who seem to have the most issues are ones where the parents overly shelter them, project their own issues on them or avoid certain situations instead of trying to explain what is going on. It depends on upbringing as much as individual nature. My brother, my friends and myself have all watched horror movies and played violent video games since a young age and we are probably some of the nicest people you'll ever meet.

I'll use another example to try and express what I mean. Going to the funeral parlor was practically a yearly or every six month event for me while I was growing up. I think I was in first grade the first time I went. Fast forward a decade and here was this teenage girl almost seventeen who not only didn't know how to handle her grandfathers death but was freaking out about going to the funeral parlor because it would be first time she saw a dead body like that. Being a veteran of such things and since most of the funeral events for my family usually ended up with people laughing and carrying on I couldn't understand her reaction. Her mother purposely kept her from going to any other wakes or funerals because she didn't want to expose her to such things. They will be exposed to such things eventually isn't it better for them to have the parent be able to explain and talk with them.

If you really want to get in psychological abuse they should begin cracking down on parents who pressure their kids to play all these sports, join clubs, and be the smartest in the class. I'm not a parent but man just let the kid be who they are.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:43 AM
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Originally posted by smyleegrl

Originally posted by beezzer
reply to post by smyleegrl
 
I'd have to disagree with your premise.

it all depends upon the context of the setting, the family, the child.

the blanket statements about harming a childs psyche are just that. Blanket statements.

Not all children are negatively affected.

I think there are quite a few that can discern fantasy from reality.

If you disagree, then fine.

But I hope you'll leave the decision making to the parents.



Thank you for the reply. You are right, children are different and the age at which they can "handle" such movies is not set in stone. No one is claiming otherwise.

Unfortunantely, in the area I live in, most parents let the television babysit their children. They aren't making a decision to allow or not allow their children to watch....they are taking a passive role in the process.

There are research studies that do indicate horror movies can have a detrimental effect on young children.

then shouldn't the issue be addressed individually?


So, ATS….should allowing young children to watch horror movies constitute abuse? Hard question to answer.
Myself, I'm hesitant to qualify it as abuse because I think its based on ignorance and would be extremely difficult to prove logistics reasons. However, I do hope we can educate parents on the dangers of the horror movie industry on impressionable minds. Next year I will be conducting a parent training in my county about the effects of television on young minds, and I have great hopes this will help parents understand the potential problems involved.


I'd be careful. There is a thin line between actually being helpful and being preachy. suggestions are great, solutions are awesome.

But as a parent, I get automatically irrational and defensive when it comes to my kids.

Namaste.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:44 AM
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There's a lot of studies about children and exposure to violence.

As a child, I was exposed to violence- I was never harmed directly, but I was forced to watch real life violence of an extreme nature. Long story I don't want to go into. Example though: Had to sit on a couch facing an open door in which a child my age was held naked on his stomach on the bed while he was flayed open with a whip made of braided boxwood hedges, which I'd been forced to make- then once his back was opened, they came in with a box of salt and rubbed it in his wounds. He passed out, I didn't.
It was not my parents. I always knew I was safe because if I ever had a mark on me, my parents would have killed someone.

So, I can say that it is different with some level of authority based on life experience. At my own home, which was safe and loving, my older sisters would watch horror movies. I knew it wasn't real, and none of them ever, ever bothered me a bit. The people were play acting.

The freaks that kept me were not actors. They made me feel powerless, and inferior, like by my nature of being young, I, and other kids, were only worth our good behavior, to be tolerated at best, to be hunted and hurt and maybe killed like pesty rodents at worst.

I think the biggest effect it had though was it made me value protectors and question authority and those that would rule by might.' That may not be a bad thing really- but I'd rather have learned it from a movie. When it is real, it is PERSONAL.

If you have a kid that can't tell the difference, they should never watch that stuff. I think most kids with above average intelligence can handle it.

I have known a very smart, very sheltered kid that couldn't handle it. I think no one had ever bothered to tell her it wasn't real, and her parents could not stand any sort of tv violence themself, so she had some of that conditioning going on to.

I always wonder what kids like that would do if TSHTF. I'd personally rather my own child be told the truth and encouraged to be a bit tough. He's 16 today and a lot of crap the other kids dish out doesn't fly with him at all. He sees through a lot of blown smoke.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:46 AM
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I felt the need to chime in on this one!

I grew up on horror movies. My parents took me to see every horror movie that came out as my Dad loved them! I went to see The Exorcist when it originally came out and to this day it is one of my favorite movies! My own children grew up on Hellraiser, etc. They continue to watch every horror movie that comes along, and even now I, my Dad and my grown children still get together sometimes to watch horror movies.

Some of my friends used to ask me (when my kids were young) how I could let them watch such gore and violence. I would explain to them that I watched the movies WITH my kids, we talked about the movies as they went along, and that my kids always understood that whatever movies we watched were fiction and for entertainment- not reality! I would also tell them that kids will always find a way to see the movies they want to see, and it's better for you to be with them to discuss what they are seeing. Sometimes I even used movies with seriel killers as lessons in self defense and how to keep your wits about you to gain the upper hand on someone bigger and stronger than yourself.

Neither me, my Dad, nor my children have any serious mental problems, we are not violent, and we don't suffer from PTSD. My kids were never traumatized by movies. Their first traumatic thing they ever saw that upset them greatly on a t.v. or movie screen was the graphic footage after the Oklahoma City bombing- now that made them cry! And I tried to shelter them from all of that, but the media threw it in the middle of them watching Saturday cartoons. To me THAT is much worse than letting them watch horror movies!

It is my personal opinion that whatever your kids watch you should be right there with them to talk about it and answer questions. I think if anything the problem lies with parents just letting their kids watch whatever they want alone without guidance. And trust me, whether you forbid it or not your kids WILL find a way to watch whatever they want to!



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:51 AM
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reply to post by showintail
 


We are HUGE walking dead fans here
My girls ages 6/4 LOVE zombies..they love old mummy movies and zombies movies, and vampire flicks..

I took the time to explain to them that it's all fake..I even let them watch the "bicycle girl" (walking dead) make-up session on youtube. Now my 6 year old tries to replicate the zombie look with makeup and is determined to be a horror film makeup artist when she is older.

It all started with RL stine movies and shorts when she was about 2. She fell in love with "One day at Horrorland" and has loved scary stuff every since..we have had absolutely no bouts of nightmares...or sleep disturbance..nothing..


I would say unless it's effecting the kids at school I would not stick my nose in what people/kids watch on tv..





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