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“A” is for Advice – Scary Movies

“A” is for Advice - Scary Movies - Grown Ups Magazine - Is your child ready for a scary movie? The answer may surprise you.
Q: I didn't let my child go to a party where a scary movie was shown. Am I being too old fashioned?

Kids and Scary Movies

Q: My ten-year-old daughter was recently invited to a party where a scary movie was shown. Out of the eight kids invited, I was the only parent who did not let my child go. Am I being too old fashioned?

A: Considering that some ten-year-olds still believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, I think you made the right call. Exposure to fantastical elements in scary movies— ghosts, predators, monsters, and gore—has a lasting impact on kids.

A 1999 study from the University of Wisconsin found that 90% of college students who reported watching scary movies as a child or adolescent could recall the experience years later. What’s more, 26% reportedly developed what’s known as “residual anxiety” associated with these movies. In other words, some college kids were still experiencing sleep disruption, nightmares, obsessive thinking about the frightening images, and/or avoidance of certain situations because they watched a scary movie as a kid. What’s scarier than that? The study also found that the younger the age of the viewer (toddlers and preschoolers in some cases), the longer the negative effects persisted.

Granted, some kids seem to handle the anxiety better than others, but that really doesn’t seem that reassuring in light of the evidence. I applaud you for not succumbing to parental peer pressure. You’ve also gained another bonus for standing your ground: a full night’s sleep uninterrupted by your daughter’s movie-induced nightmares. Who wouldn’t pass that up?

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About the author

Crystal Plante

Crystal Plante

Crystal is a teacher, reading specialist, freelance writer, author, and married mother of four. In her spare time—or whatever spare time a mother of four has—she enjoys reading, cooking, watching television, and volunteering in her community. Crystal is an unabashed chocoholic and a long-suffering (but recently redeemed) fan of the Kansas City Chiefs. You can visit her website at

  • Great question and I think the answer given was reasonable. I think I would need to know what scary movie specifically as the parent before making the decision.

  • This is really interesting! It’s nice to see that parents aren’t giving into peer pressure and choosing what is right for their own kids 🙂

  • Iris Gonzalez

    What a very informative answer! I am not the biggest fan of scary movies myself so I would be seriously considering not letting my young child watch a scary movie. I wonder why, out of all the scary things that happen in real life, we as humans find it entertaining to be scared out of our wits? Lol

  • That is pretty interesting statistics, but I think that it depends on the scary movie for my child.

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