All parents struggle to decide what movies, TV shows, and videogames to let your kids watch and play. There are a few conflicting ideas about the problem. Some people would argue that the ratings on movies and TV are perfectly justified and you shouldn’t let your kids watch anything outside of their age group. The violent content can affect their behavior and possibly increase the chance of them being violent themselves. On the other hand, some people say it’s all about parenting. As long as you teach your kids about right and wrong, and make sure that they understand the line between fantasy and reality, then they shouldn’t be negatively affected by watching violent films.
It’s getting harder to police the movies and TV that your kids are watching because it’s not as simple as locking your videos away anymore. Streaming services are the main place that kids watch things and as parents, you don’t always understand them properly. Do you know how to set parental restrictions on Netflix? Can you request shows on netflix? You probably don’t know the answers to those questions, but you should. If you can’t police what they watch then you don’t have a say over the situation at all. So, are violent movies bad for your kids or not?
Personally, I don’t think it’s quite as clear cut as that. When I was younger, I had a friend over to stay and we watched some films. The next day my parents got an angry phone call from his mother because she didn’t think one of the films we watched was appropriate for twelve year olds. The film in question was the Terminator. My parents didn’t think it was a problem because it isn’t especially violent and I wasn’t affected by it. On a separate occasion, I watched a horror movie with my older brother. The ratings on both movies were the same but after watching the second one, I didn’t sleep for weeks. So, I don’t think that you can decide on ratings alone, and you need to think about the content of each specific film and whether your child will understand it.
Is It Dangerous?
There are plenty of people that argue watching violent films as a child makes you violent as an adult in the real world. The problem with that is, there isn’t actually any solid evidence to back that up. Studies haven’t found any direct correlations between violent films and violent people. Researchers also pointed to Japan as an example when they were looking into video game violence. Japan has one of the highest rates of video game players, yet their murder rate is almost zero. That would suggest that there isn’t a link, but that doesn’t mean it’s fine to let them watch and play whatever they like.
Will Your Child Understand The Content?
The reason that children are affected by films differs. The key element is whether they understand the content or not. It wouldn’t be appropriate to let children watch a violent film, without explaining it to them. If they understand that sometimes people are violent, but it’s wrong, then letting them watch a violent film should be fine. However, if they don’t understand that, they might think that the behavior in the film is ok and that is when they might decide to start copying it.
How Have Ratings Changed?
Another thing to consider is how film ratings and the bar of what is suitable has changed. When The Exorcist was released, people were being taken out of the movie theatre on stretchers after passing out. But by modern standards, that film isn’t really that scary at all. In general, you can put a lot more violence into lower rated films so it can be difficult to tell what you’re getting. Something that was rated R when you were younger, might be PG-13 now.
Language is a bit of an easier one. If kids hear a word, they are going to repeat it. You’ll try to teach them not to swear but it is going to happen at some point. When it comes to swearing, you should try to stick to the guidelines. Alternatively, you could look for censored versions so your kids can enjoy the film without hearing the swearing.
The truth is, there is no solid answer to this question. All films are different and all children are going to be affected in their own way. You’ll have to use your judgement, and the best thing to do is watch the films yourself first, that way you can be absolutely sure.