The Courier-Mail

Scary TV a bit ho-hum for most kids

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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.

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