Movies - Special Issues for Young Children

It can take young children several viewings to fully absorb and understand the story and images in a movie. Indulge their need to watch a favourite movie over and over again. They're learning more every time, as well as getting comfort from the familiar.

  • Entertainment produced for children today is generally fast-paced and action-packed. Expose kids to slower-paced films, and let them learn to appreciate the more subtle aspects of good storytelling.
  • Many children's movies reinforce stereotypes of male and female roles, and of people from different cultures. We should teach kids, from an early age, to spot stereotypes. They'll enjoy doing this—it involves them and makes them feel smart.
  • The entertainment industry markets to young children quite aggressively—usually by means of film-related merchandise such as toys, clothing and fast food. Often these products are tie-ins to violent films, better suited to teens and adults than to very young children.
  • Young children should be protected from frightening and violent images in movies and on TV.
    • Pre-screen unfamiliar films, to make sure they don't contain scenes that could disturb a child.
    • Joanne Cantor, author of Mommy, I'm Scared, says that children between ages two and seven are most frightened by something that looks scary—even if it's actually harmless, such as a benevolent monster. They find this more threatening than something genuinely harmful with a benign exterior, such as a handsome villain. Also, very young children have not yet grasped the distinction between fantasy and reality; so they're just as frightened by something totally impossible (such as a sorcerer casting an evil spell) as by something real that could actually harm them, such as a burglar.
    • Because of this, Cantor says, it's useless to tell such young children that the film "isn't real”. If a child is frightened by a scary movie, she recommends non-verbal techniques: a hug, a glass of water, a distracting activity. As well, because the distinction between fact and fiction is unclear to them, this age group often responds well to magical remedies—an Indian dream-catcher or a ritual check for monsters in the closet. Parents should never ridicule or criticize children for being frightened.


(Source: Mommy, I'm Scared: How TV and Movies Frighten Children and What We Can Do To Protect Them)