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I remember watching the original version of The Time Machine on TV when I was little, and afterward having nightmares for months. And while those months of nightmares felt like a lifetime right then, was I really scarred for life? Not so much. As an adult I watched it again to see if it was still as scary as I remembered it being before watching the remake. It was fun to compare my perceptions as a child versus now and also the two versions of the movie. A lot of parents try to prevent their kids from scary movies, but should they be sheltering them or should they allow their children to watch horror shows? While parents should monitor what movies their kids watch, they don’t need to go overboard. Some scary movies can be okay for kids and here are 10 reasons why.

  1. Handling fear – Scary movies are a great way for kids to learn how to handle fear. No matter how real it may seem, it’s just a movie after all. An occasional horror movie may help your child to confront their fears and deal with them.
  2. Thrills – Some kids enjoy being scared a little and like to watch spooky movies just for the thrills. It’s fun to shriek, giggle and hide their face all the while making fun of their siblings or friends. By the age of 8 to 10 youngsters may be looking for more thrill seeking adventuresome movies to watch.
  3. Reality vs. make believe – Watching a scary movie can help kids learn to differentiate between reality and make believe. In order to deal with the fear factor they need to step back and realize what they’re watching didn’t actually happen, but was all made up in a movie studio.
  4. Learn to analyze – Once they put it into context, kids can learn to analyze the horror movie and how it was made. They can also contemplate why one thing makes them scared while other things don’t.
  5. Just for fun – Kids might want to watch an occasional horror movie just for the fun of it. Maybe it’s a change of pace from their normal viewing or a special occasion. And really, who doesn’t like watching scary movies on Halloween?
  6. Pushing boundaries – Children can’t be raised in a vacuum, and sometimes pushing the boundaries is a good thing. Kids who have never watched a scary movie while growing up certainly won’t know how to deal with it as an adult.
  7. Share a passion – Some people really enjoy watching horror movies, so for kids it could be a way of sharing a passion with someone in their life. Whether it’s a parent, sibling or friends, watching a scary movie together is a unique way to share something special.
  8. Part of growing up – Everyone needs to get the daylights scared out of them at some point in their life. It’s all a part of growing up, so watching scary movies is a pretty harmless way to clear that hurdle.
  9. Fitting in – Kids always want to fit in with their friends, so never watching a scary movie will make them feel left out. When all their friends are talking about the latest spooky episode, they want to be included in the conversation.
  10. Snuggle time – Parents can use this as an opportunity to get some snuggle time with their kids as they get older. Watching a scary movie together may be a good way to squeeze out a few extra hugs that have diminished over the years.

Parents don’t want their kids to have nightmares, but they do need to be careful not to shelter them too much. Children under the age of 7 have trouble separating fiction from reality, so watching gory movies at that age would be a bad idea, and I’m certainly not advocating that. However, with a little discretion, parents and kids should be able to decide on a few movies with appropriate scariness. Be sure to include some humor and a happy ending is a must. There’s even some evidence that kids are better off watching scary movies without their parents. Mom and dad may reinforce the fear and make it even more frightening to the child. Just remember that different things are scary for different people. An occasional thriller may not be a bad thing for your child.