The question woke me up at 4am last night, “Why am I so bothered, as a parent, that a 2nd grader went to see the Hunger Games movie yesterday?”

Why?

And then it came to me. It’s because of Teachers College, Columbia University.  Seriously.

I went into television because I didn’t like much of what was on tv for kids.  And so I studied the effects of media on kids.  And, the differences in which children perceive and understand the world is correlated to the way children understand media, What children perceive as “real” and what they perceive as “fantasy” is the main area of distinction.  Kids will model what cartoons do.  Cartoons!  And, if you ask a young child they will tell you that a cartoon is not real.  But then why do they often show some aggression after they watch cartoon violence?  It’s because the line is very blurred between reality and fantasy…and continues to be more and more unclear.

A movie, written from the point of view of a child, in a “realistic” yet futuristic setting, where you are literally surrounded by the story and enveloped into the world can create a strong emotional response among children.  And watching children killing children for survival could cause fear and worry into those kids who are not developmentally ready (prior to age 13, depending on the child).

Is that really entertainment?

I reached out to friend and colleague, Dr. Roberta Schomburg, PhD Early Childhood Professor at Carlow University and she says, “Giving children information that raises fears will, in the long run undermine children’s sense of security and trust that the world is a good place to be.”

To me, it’s basically the day that childhood is over.  And I remember that day.

Do you?

Send me in comments about when you watched or saw something you weren’t ready for.  Did you sleep with the lights on after the Thriller video?  Cry after seeing a particular movie in the theater? Did you view your world differently moving forward?

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