Music & Culture
Should Young Children Be Exposed to Horror Movies–Even Animated Ones?
Written by T.M. Gaouette | October 19, 2012
When my young son saw the preview of the animated movie Frankenweenie, he sat bug-eyed and then covered his face with a cushion. I wish I’d known the movie’s content before allowing the trailer to play. That night, he couldn’t sleep. The images of a sewn-together dog, albeit animated, was keeping him awake.
ParaNorman is another new animated, 3D horror-comedy. It’s about a young boy who communicates with the dead and is called upon to fight ghosts and zombies who threaten his town.
I know that scary movies for kids is not a new phenomenon. Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice and Gremlins are just a few examples of horror movies that cater to a young audience. But because they’re animated, are Frankenweenie and ParaNorman being marketed to an even younger audience–possibly as young as preschool? And if this is the case, is such exposure to the dark and paranormal inappropriate or just a bit of fun?
Frankenstein is definitely not a movie for children, so why would Hollywood make a child’s version of the story? I don’t know the content of the whole movie, but when I saw the preview, I found it disturbing for a young child. And the idea that a boy brings his dead dog back to life is just horrible.
Critics of these movies are questioning whether they’re actually child-friendly. Not only because of the content of the movies, but also because of the themes of talking to the dead, or bringing a dead dog to life. Some have gone further and think these types of movies desensitize children.
Advocates for kids’ horror movies suggest that children should be exposed to these kinds of films because they reflect the realities of life–not that the themes are real, but that life can be horrific. Children shouldn’t be sheltered, they argue.
When I was a child, I used to watch horror movies out of curiosity, but they would haunt my dreams night after night. I’d be afraid to go to the bathroom and sometimes stepping into a dark room would cause heart palpitations.
Even as an adult, scary movies had a negative effect on me. I have a vivid imagination. For this reason, I stopped watching scary movies about 10 years ago. One day I just decided I didn’t want that kind of stuff contaminating my subconscience. I didn’t want the images replaying in my mind. And in turn, I don’t want my children carrying those images in their minds, either.
I also agree with some of the critics who suggest that these movies are desensitizing. I’m really not comfortable with the idea that my children are used to watching horror movies, or that they won’t feel the need to cover their eyes when ghosts or zombies or demonic creatures present themselves on the screen.
I don’t want my children feeling that way. And I don’t believe that watching scary movies made me a stronger person. In fact, I think they made me more fearful.
For the record, both these movies are rated PG. The Dove Foundation reviewed them, giving Frankenweenie a four-dove rating and recommending it for ages 12 and older. ParaNorman, however, was rated “Not Dove Family-Approved.”
Ladies, do you believe that these movies are appropriate for young children? Do you enjoy watching scary movies?