Scary movies for kids - yes or no?
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario, 3-May-2012By SHAMALA VELU
People enjoy the thrill of watching scary and adventure movies because they are filled with excitement and suspense. Parents are also tempted to bring along their kids to cinemas. Some hope it would be an invigorating experience for them. Others do so because the kids keep asking to watch the movie.
Is it okay for primary school-aged children to watch such movies, especially if these movies are classified as PG-13 (parental guidance suggested – some material may not be inappropriate for children under 13)? Some parents say these movies are deemed too violent for a minor to watch. Others think it is almost impossible to protect a child from the harsh realities of life.
Two parents share their opinions here:
Homemaker Tina Shahir, mother to Alysha, 14, Armand, 12, Arieff, eight, and Amelia, three:
“I usually check the movie ratings to make sure that a movie is appropriate for my children. Despite some movies being rated ‘U’ I am still on the lookout as sometimes the movies may be too gory and the language questionable.
I don't generally think it is okay for my kids below 13 to watch PG-13 movies as I believe the rating is there for a reason. As parents, we are also aware that negative factors can be picked up from school, friends and other public areas. However, I try to guide them and keep them away from negative influences.
I find that 'scary' films by Disney and Pixar are well received and enjoyable to both kids and adults. I have no problems with my kids watching them. They especially love Monsters, Inc and even Ghostbusters. They are afraid of watching the gory horror shows, including some local productions.
Because I have children from different age groups, I generally rely on the ratings. Comedies are great for the entire family to watch. Of course, there are times when they view scary movies on TV but so far they have not had nightmares after watching them. In some cases, my younger children may sleep with the night light on.
If there is a good movie to watch but with some scary scenes, we usually watch them when the younger ones are asleep, usually after 10pm on weekends. So far, our older children Alysha and Armand can handle them well enough and we have no issues.
Every parent should know their child before choosing scary movies. It is important to know how much your child is capable of handling. Generally, we prefer not to watch movies with too much bloody scenes and violence. Even as adults, we are appalled by some of the scenes, so I don’t want to expose such material to my kids, as well.
I think the best thing to do is watch movies or television with our children, taking the opportunity to explain that a lot of the violence that occurs on television is not real. We are always on the lookout for questionable scenes though. Sometimes we explain about the CGI (computer graphics imagery) effects which look realistic. If we notice a show on television that is going into areas that are unacceptable, we would normally change channels or switch off the TV. We then explain the reason for doing so and try to make our children understand why such programmes are not acceptable.
As far as scary movies are concerned, I think there is a fine line between what is acceptable to kids and what is not. Every child is not the same and each child will react differently while watching a scary movie.
As parents, we choose a movie that even the youngest would enjoy and usually it works well for all of us at home.
For parents who allow their children to watch PG-13 movies, my advice would be to keep a lookout on how a child acts or reacts when, and after, watching these movies. You will know what works for your child and what doesn't and how to be selective about choosing movies from then on.”
Yusry Abu Samah, chief operating officer of Suria FM and father to Yuzwan Yusuf, 17, and Nuradilla Narisha, 13:
“I always check if the movies are rated 'U' before my children can watch a movie. It should be the responsibility of all parents to check if a movie is viable for kids to watch. As a parent, I do not want my children exposed to films that can distort their view of life or frighten them.
I always use the movie ratings as guidance to see if my children can watch a particular movie. Sometimes, however, I also use my own discretion in allowing my kids to watch a film although it may not be rated ‘U.’ This is done after making sure the contents of the film are not going to be detrimental to them.
They have always enjoyed Disney movies - even the ones that have spooky scenes. I think Disney movies are always a good choice, but some of the more adult horror films are too frightening, like Poltergeist and Jurassic Park.
Often, I try to pick movies that are suitable for my teenagers. It can be difficult sometimes, as I think older children don't always want to watch films for younger children.
My son generally is not as scared as his sister. I think all children tend to be prone to having nightmares and as a parents, it is our responsibility to put their fears to rest and assure them that there are no 'real monsters.'
A good parent will always know their child, too. There will always be a point in time when children are exposed to violence and gore in films. It's part of life to see such things. If my children react badly to seeing bloody images, I will do my best to keep such movies out of the house. Having said that, I believe it can be detrimental also to protect children too much from the harsh realities of life.
However, I believe it would be responsible of parents to sit with children, when watching a film that shows violence, blood or other frightening themes. If the film becomes too violent, I would definitely consider walking out of the cineplex or stopping them from watching it.
Different parents have different levels of education, aptitude and responsibilities. I think it is irresponsible to expose a young child to horror or gory films. I also think it's irresponsible to shield your child too much - it is a question of using one’s discretion to see the level, and the sort of movies that are suitable for your child.”