Horror movies and your child

A previous article discussed sleep deprivation associated poor sleep with device use. Today, we’ll discuss a related topic: horror movies.

As a review, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “children should get 9 to 12 hours of sleep and teenagers 8 to 10 hours.” Why? Because sleep is important for brain development and cognitive functioning. Research reported in the magazine, Today’s Parent, shows that “when kids sleep, processes take place in the brain and other areas of the body that support growth, health, memory and cognitive development.” They added further, They added further, “Kids who don’t get enough sleep are often irritable, forgetful and have difficulties with emotional regulation” (August 15, 2019).

But what does this have to do with watching horror movies?

“Young children who watch violent movies, including Halloween horror films, television shows or video games may be more likely to develop anxiety, sleep disorders, and aggressive and self-endangering behaviors,”Science Daily.

One study further indicated that the negative effects of watching a horror movie can last for months or even years; and that these effects are no different than if the trauma resulted from an actual or real-life experience. University of Wisconsin researchers recorded one participant as saying, “for about two months after the movie, I had nightmares about blood,” the participant said. “The nightmares didn’t always involve sharks, but always contained gross amounts of blood. To this day, I remain horrified of blood.”

Most experts frown against the practice of horror movie watching among kids and actually discourage parents from doing so. “Toddlers and young children who watch violent movies, including Halloween horror films, television shows or video games may be more likely to develop anxiety, sleep disorders, and aggressive and self-endangering behaviors,” found a Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Columbia University study supported by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Recommendations

  • Sit down and have a frank family discussion about entertainment choices and genres
  • Inform yourself about the scientific and academic pros and cons of entertainment choices
  • Suggest healthy, life-affirming entertainment alternatives
  • Monitor what your children watch on television
  • Provide input on movie-going selections of your teens
  • Utilize parental controls on televisions and computers
  • Make yourself available to talk with your child and teen about their (and your) fears
  • Set limits

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