By Rupal Patel
Most parents are in a dilemma when it comes to deciding what films they should allow their children to see. At the same time, there are some others who do not feel the need to assess what kind of films their children watch.
Is there a need to assess the films a child watches? What are the effects of movies on children?
The Positive Effects Of Movies
Movies, like books, can do a lot of subtle teaching. They can teach values, make us grateful for the lives we have, show us the different sides of human nature, entertain us and make us laugh, teach us to appreciate music and dance, etc.
Movies take us to places we may never have the chance to visit, show us animals and nature that we may never see, expose us to a different kind of culture, and lots more. When we watch a movie that is positive, we are always left with a good feeling inside.
Sometimes even sad movies help us to be grateful for what we have. All in all movies can leave us with something positive provided that the right kind of movie is watched, and more importantly at the right age.
The Negative Effects Of Movies
Movies that have a lot of violence, bad language, sexual exposure and vulgarity can create similar patterns in our subconscious mind, leading towards wrong behavior. In children, the copycat syndrome often plays a role, making them want to emulate their favorite actor or actress, whether in behavior, clothes or habits.
Children do not have the maturity to differentiate fact from fantasy. Movies can cause them to believe that what they see is real and that it can happen to them too. This can lead to development of fears and insecurities in the mind of a child.
What parents need to keep in mind before allowing your children to watch a film
- The Censor Board Certificate
The Censor Board Certificate is issued for a reason. It is imperative that we consider that before taking our children to watch a particular film. A ‘U’ means universal rating; these movies are generally for family audiences and are usually fine for children to watch.
‘UA’ is meant for children of age 12 and above. Children below 12 are to be taken at the discretion of a parent, and must be accompanied by an adult. Parents should take into account that these movies may have some violence, bad language, scenes not suitable for children, etc. A movie rated ‘A’ is of course for adults only (18 and over) and children should in no way be exposed to these films.
- Your Child’s Age
Unfortunately parents do sometimes take children to a movie not meant for them as they have nowhere to leave the child. Some cinema houses are not strict enough to stop them either.
At this point, we need to stop and ask ourselves, “Is watching a particular film at the cost of imparting wrong values and developing fears in our child worth it?” Cinema houses today seem to be filled with children of all ages… infants, toddlers, preteens, teens; even in movies which are not meant for them.
A child’s mind is still developing and he is not always able to differentiate fact from fiction. Young children, especially, tend to accept whatever they watch as real and older ones tend to idolize and want to be like their screen idols – good and bad. It is therefore important to keep in mind the child’s age and level of maturity before taking him for a ‘U’ or ‘UA’ film.
- Your Personal Values
Even movies with a ‘U’ certificate may not support the values that you have for your child. It is thus important to make sure what the film is about before taking your child to watch it. Having said this, movies that have good values should not be missed.
- Violence In Films
Watching violence in films can create fears in the child’s mind, resulting in nightmares, fear of darkness and fear of people. Frequent exposure to violence can make children go to the other extreme and desensitize them towards the feelings of others, as they may start believing that violence is the normal way of life. This can lead to children becoming violent themselves.
- Objectionable Language
The easiest way to pick up any language is to listen to it. When children hear profanity in films or language that you do not want them to learn, it is very difficult to stop them from using those words.
It is also difficult to explain to younger children why a word would be wrong if their favorite actor or actress can use it. On the other hand, allowing them to watch good movies that use good language is a great way for them to learn the language faster.
- Exposure To Glamor
Glamor is associated with movies in a big way now. Along with it comes revealing bodies, whether six-pack abs or a size zero figure. Children, especially preteens and teens, want to look like their favorite stars and aspire to get a body like them.
They may strive to do this through starvation, which can lead to health problems. They may come to believe that it is fine to wear revealing clothes even though they may not be age appropriate.
Parents may not approve of this and ultimately this can lead to rebellion in the child. What is important here is to keep your child’s self esteem high and let him know that he is always loved.
Looks are not the most important thing in life. While children can appreciate glamor, they should know that everyone has different strengths and everyone is special in their own way.
- Length Of The Movie
Young children are not able to sit through very long films; that is one of the reasons that kid’s movies are short. They get restless, as their basic nature is to run around and play.
Take note of the length of the film and of your child’s attention span before taking him to watch it. Viewing a long film on DVD at home is better for younger children since they can watch it at intervals.
- Respect For Other Movie Watchers
Some parents take infants or children who cannot sit still to the movies. We have to keep in mind that there are other people around us who have come to watch a film and have a good time.
Crying babies or children who run around or talk constantly are very annoying and disturb the other cinemagoers. Let us teach our children to have respect for others too.
- Changing Values Over Generations
A lot of parents argue that we grew up watching all kinds of movies and it didn’t affect most of us. We have to remember that the movies made when we were younger were very different as compared to the ones being made now. Exposure to media and television has also increased tremendously in the past decade.
Movies come and go. The impact of a movie on your child may last for a long time, sometimes long enough to affects the child’s behavior. At other times, a film may not affect a child for more than a short while.
However, it is difficult to know which movies will leave a lasting impact on the child’s mind and which will not. It is therefore important to be aware of a film’s content before taking your kids to watch it.
© Rupal Patel
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