Scary Movies

The Effects of on Children

While the psychological community now pretty much agrees about the effects of repeated television and film violence on children, there’s still some argument on the effects of a good scare – or a bad one, as the case may be. After “Jurassic Park” opened, some mental health professionals posted warnings about the “intensity” of its excitements, especially for younger children. It’s not just that the dinosaurs emit deafening roars and demolish things – like the monsters of a more innocent cinematic age – these beasts look virtually real. And what is more, they eat people -to them, kids are just appetizers. “This movie is dedicated to making you feel like food,” says one psychiatrist. Children handle scary movies differently at different ages. Regardless of age, however, reactions may depend on how secure a child feels. “I don’t think that, by themselves, most of these movies can cause a terrible trauma,” says another professor of child psychiatry. Likewise, some parents think that some psychiatrists are too cautious. If most grownups enjoy a good scare, the argument goes, why deny it to kids? What’s the big deal if they have a nightmare or two – does it warp their lives? All of these points make one nostalgic for creature features like “King Kong”. As Kong-era kids knew without parental guidance, the big monster never meant any harm to anyone – not even child psychologists. He was simply in love. But they don’t make monsters like that anymore.

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