Tweens watching R rated movies

Filed under: Tweens, Teens, Health & Safety: Babies, In The News, Going Green, Media

Lately, my seven-year-old has shown an interest in playing a rather bloody video game. It's not exactly violent, but involves a skateboarder who bleeds profusely whenever he wipes out. I refuse to let her play because I don't like the way the bright red blood oozes realistically across the pavement. Of course it isn't real, but I am uncomfortable with the idea that she will become desensitized to the sight of massive amounts of flowing blood.

Clearly there are many parents who have no such qualms when it comes to blood, gore and assorted acts of violence. According to the journal Pediatrics, an estimated 2.5 million kids ages 10 to 14 watch R rated movies, often with parental permission.

The researchers gave 6,522 kids a list of movies, 40 if them rated R and chosen for their extreme graphic violence. When asked to list which ones they had seen, an average of 12.5% indicated that they had seen each of the R rated movies. The researchers didn't ask where they saw the films, but did include a question about whether or not their parents allowed them to watch R rated movies. One third said their parents were okay with it "sometimes" or "all the time". 22.6% of those who weren't allowed still managed to see at least one anyway.

Studies have shown that exposure to violent media can increase aggression and desensitize a person to real violence. For that reason, the researchers believe that violent movies should have an explicit warning that they "should not be seen by young adolescents" and they encourage pediatricians to talk to parents about the risks involved.

Of course, there are those who see no harm in exposing children to horror. Gerard Jones, author of Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Superheroes and Make-Believe Violence, says these experiences are "a classic, vital part of teen culture." I think the key phrase in the sentence is "teen culture". A ten-year-old is not a teen.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.