Scary TV a bit ho-hum for most kids
THE impact of scary television on children’s wellbeing has been overstated, psychologists at a British university say.
Researchers found that while a small minority of children could exhibit extreme reactions to a frightening program or film, most showed very little sign of increased fear, sadness, anxiety or sleep problems.
Laura Pearce, a University of Sussex research student, and Andy Field, Professor of Child Psychopathology at the university, reviewed all research into the topic carried out in the past 25 years.
Their findings, published in the journal Human Communication Research, suggested that children were fairly resilient to scary items they saw on television.
Prof Field said: “Across studies, scary TV had an impact on children’s wellbeing but it was fairly small on aver- age, suggesting that most children are not affected very much at all.”
The researchers also noted that TV guidelines focused on violent content at the expense of non-violent but frightening content, such as worrying news reports or content depicting psychological stress or phobias.
“Although at the group level the effect of scary TV on children’s anxiety is small, it is present,” Prof Field said.