I was in sixth grade when The Sixth Sense was released on DVD. My mom rented it from Blockbuster (ah, the good ol’ days) and watched it alone, telling me that it was too grown-up for me to watch. She promised that I would have nightmares, but I was insistent. I wanted to watch that movie. “Fine,” she agreed, “but after you watch it you have to go immediately to bed, with no lights on, and you can’t leave your room for the rest of the night.”
My conviction wavered.
“I guess I won’t watch it,” I grumbled, and when I finally did watch it (four years later), I had nightmares for over a week.
Now, I’m a scary movie afficionado. Zombies, vampires, monsters, serial killers…you name it. But even now, I still have boundaries I won’t cross. Straight-up gore fests, or movies that glory in their own debauchery without any redeeming value, are something I still avoid. Sometimes I still freak myself out and have trouble sleeping. But how old is old enough to start watching scary movies? And how do you decide what is appropriate for your child?
I have a lot of friends who are terrified of clowns, thanks to an early viewing of the film It. One great resources for children and horror movies is Common Sense Media. So don’t leave your kids out of the Halloween scary movie fun. Just save the scarier stuff for after they go to bed. And remember, it’s all about development. Don’t you remember being terrified of the cartoon ghosts and ghouls on Scooby Doo?