And People Wonder Why There is Violence

For some unfathomable reason, my husband likes to watch horror movies. I personally think they are disgusting and totally contrary to Philippians 4:8*, but my husband thinks they are funny.

Anyway, over the past weekend my husband went to a late evening showing of a rated R horror movie with a buddy of his. The next morning he told me that he couldn’t believe how many young, young kids that were there. We are talking about kids of the ages ten and under. He even told me that he saw a young girl about eleven or twelve who came into the theater with a young boy of about five or six (assumed it was her brother) and left him alone so she could go sit with her friends.

This is sad to me. Am I the only one dismayed about this? I mean, what are the parents thinking? Granted I’ve let Andrew see PG-13 movies on occasion such as Spiderman, but I can’t see myself letting him watch any rated R movie, let alone a horror flick. Truth is, I don’t think some parents are thinking. They have been so desensitized by popular culture that I don’t think that many parent even realize that allowing kids to watch certain movies can have a permanent and lasting effect on children.

However, there have been studies done such as this one and this one which show that watching horror movies can develop damaging behavior in children.  In the article The Psychological Effects of Violent Media on Children by Aimee Tompkins it states,

Current research tends to agree with the proponents who argue that violent media is associated with aggressive behavior.  Risky behavior by children and young adults can include violence against others, lack of remorse for consequences.  The type of faulty thinking creates stressors in children which can lead to the onset of many different symptoms.  Children who view media violence are more likely to have increased feelings of hostility, decreased emotional response to the portrayal of violence and injury that lead to violent behavior through imitation.  An example here would be the television show Jack Ass.  There have been several accidents related to young men attempting stunts that are done on the show.  The act of imitating what they have seen on a television show causes injury to themselves or others around them.”

This is serious stuff. If we allow our kids to watch movies with a lot of violence (or play the many violent video games out there for that matter) and get their heads filled with violence and junk, how can we expect them to not react with violence in the world around them? As parents we need to be educated and vigilant in what we allow our kids to be exposed to.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not for over-protecting our kids and sheltering them to the point where they have no sense of interacting with others. I do believe that as parents we have a right and a responsibility to filter what and how much we expose our children to.

More and more we are hearing about school shootings, such as at Newtown, CT and other acts of violence (such as the most recent shooting in Texas) which feel like they are getting closer and closer to home. Last week a guy walked into a local Bed, Bath and Beyond not far from me (about 20 minutes) and stabbed a young several times. All this violence is coming from somewhere – the breakdown of the family and moral norms of society for sure – and a big part of it, in my opinion, comes from the movies and video games exposed to children at young ages.

Chime in here. What do you think about young kids, I’d say 12 and younger, being allowed to see horror and/or violent movies? Do you believe violent movies (and/or video games) play a part in the increased violence in young people today?

*Philippians 4:8 is “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”