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How to Decide Whether to Let Your Child Watch a Scary Movie

How to Decide Whether to Let Your Child Watch a Scary Movie

With Halloween right around the corner, the question of whether to let your children watch a scary movie is on the minds of many parents. If your child wants to know what the horror genre is all about and you want to be ready with an answer, we've rounded up several different perspectives, all from Circle of Moms members, on how to decide whether he or she is ready for this very particular kind of thrill.

It's Clearly Fake, And Kids Don't Get Scared

For several Circle of Moms members, letting children watch scary movies just doesn't seem like it's even much of an issue. Amanda H. is one of these moms. As she shares: "My niece is 9 and she's been watching scary movies for over two years now. She doesn't get freaked out by them; she usually thinks they're lame, lol."

Desi B. even allows her toddler to watch scary movies: “I didn't want my oldest to watch a horror movie because she is two, but she did watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre and she liked it and didn't want me to [turn it off]. I was worried she would have nightmares but she didn't. She said she liked it.”


Think Desi's daughter will be traumatized by watching such a scary movie at such a young age? Not if her relationship with horror flicks turns out like Ashely J.'s did: "I have been watching scary movies since I was two. At sex scenes I'd have to cover my eyes and it was usually fast-forwarded. I learned...that it was all fake, and the blood was ketchup/paint. Horror is my favorite genre, and I have yet to be scared by one."


Scary Movies Are Definitely Not for Children

On the other side of the debate are moms who feel strongly that young children should not watch frightening movies. "There's no reason to expose children to those things," say Teresa. 

Brianna D. agrees: "Kids are so senstive and impressionable and can be hugely impacted, even traumatized, when seeing things that they cannot understand are not reality. I was exposed to scary movies as a young child and was hugely affected by it. I was very fearful, had nightmares, etc., for many years after."

It's not just nightmares that these moms worry about. As Kelly W. explains, "There is a lot of content in movies rated PG-13 or R that is not suitable for small children, including language and sexual content, as well as the violence and 'scariness.'" As a result, she strictly follows the film rating guidelines: "My kids honestly were not allowed to watch PG-13 movies until they turned 13, and R-rated movies until age 17.

It All Depends on the Child

Many Circle of Moms members share that they feel most comfortable waiting until their children are preteens or teens before they allow them to watch scary movies. "Most horror films have an age restriction for a reason," says Alison. "I don't think any horror films are suitable for actual children, but some are okay for teens. The ones with a science fiction or cheesy, comedy element to them are probably okay for most pre-teens too."

Jackie agrees: "I think it totally depends on the child. My husband's son is 14 and can't handle anything, really...I know plenty of 10-year-olds who love the mystery/suspense/murder-horror type movies and can just go about their business when it's over.

Still unsure? Amy K. offers a good final tip: "If in doubt, watch the movies without the kids and then decide for yourself on a movie by movie basis."

At what age did you watch your first horror movie?

Image Source: Capture Queen via Flickr/Creative Commons

kathymabry57789 kathymabry57789 5 years
i went on youtube to show my son who is 7 about to be 8 some scary music movie scenes with freddy krueger, lol he is not ready for scary movies.
AprilBeck84980 AprilBeck84980 5 years
It depends. We talk with our girls about how this is a movie and didn't happen. I have also talked with them about what is going on with the world. Things i find scary (The grudge, Mothman prophesis) I won't show them. If they are scared then I will stop too. It depends on the child. My oldest can understand more then the younger. Follow the ratings and talk with your child.
RosaLopez21322 RosaLopez21322 5 years
Funny, someone would let their child watch scary movies but not the Passion of the Christ? I wouldn't let her watch The Passion either, it is too graphic for children, but I would prefer she see it, where her savior is sacrificing himself for her, than to see some gratuitous slasher scene in another movie. At least Christ's message was forgiveness and salvation. And no, I would prefer she not see any of them, even the funny ones like Shawn of the Dead, or Scary Movie or even the Scream franchises. Unfortunately, her father loves to watch them and when she's with him she gets her fill.
AnissaFranks AnissaFranks 5 years
My daughter has watched scary movies, she loves all the harry potters and she has seen the old horror movies and some low level horrors and plenty of action movies some moms on here consider too much. I watch them all with her, if she ever looked scared or uncomfortable I would change it but she never has. She also has never seen any genuine horror movies yet. She understands that movies are not real. And I was under 5yo when I started watching genuine horror films like night of the living dead and I understood they were fake and loved them. No nightmares. My daughter is almost 3, not sure when she will watch a real horror movie but it will be awhile and never any where a child is harmed. And nvr passion of the christ bc that movie is so gore filled it even freaked me out!
Robynn93056 Robynn93056 5 years
Why would anyone even take the chance showing their child a scary movie. I accidentally saw a scene from a horror movie when I was five at a relative's house and it scared me so badly that I had nightmares and had to start sleeping with a light on. I still don't watch scary movies. There is no way to predict how a child will react to scary images, so why even risk it. Keep our kids innocent as long as possible. Let them be kids and have them watch shows like Toy Story. That lady who let her 2 year old watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre is crazy. Little kids have no way to know that something is fake. They take everything very literally and even if you tell them it is not real, they cannot separate fiction from reality yet, so they are still going to be scared and perhaps traumatized for life. We work so hard to protect our kids from harm, so I can't understand why some people would purposely show them something that may scar them forever. Shame on those that do.
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