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Unsuitable films for children

(66 Posts)
MawB Sat 21-Sep-19 21:38:14

Babysitting - DGS 1 (9) has just come downstairs close to tears saying he is frightened by something. So got him beside me on the sofa and tried to tease it out of him.
LSS it seems he was recently at a friend’s house and saw either film or the trailer for the new Stephen King film “Pennywise” (?)
I have never been a Stephen King fan and googling the film/character it scared the lights out of me!
We chatted about how his mummy and daddy or I or his other grandparents would never let anything harm him, how his school (a lovely CofE primary) cares for not just his learning but his emotional development and how his loving family could not possibly be more supportive and caring.
I have to tell DD about this when she she gets in, but my initial reaction is how could another parent be so negligent as to let their own 9 year old, let alone his friend, watch something so terrifying and unsuitable.
I am actually very cross as DGS is a lovely sensitive and highly intelligent boy who thinks deeply about things and has clearly been very affected.
Who’d be a parent nowadays?
Any thoughts, advice, experience of this sort of thing?

dragonfly46 Sat 21-Sep-19 21:43:02

This is a real problem but it is not a new one. I have recently found out that my DD saw and learned a lot of things she wished she hadn’t at a friends house when she was little.
You are lucky your DGS talked to you about it. I am sure you will have normalised things and made him feel better.
I wish I had had that opportunity.

GagaJo Sat 21-Sep-19 21:46:14

I have LONG held this opinion. My ex husband loved The A Team, a god awful TV series in the 80s. Very very violent. I didn't want our daughter to watch it. But he always claimed it was OK because no one died in it.


Kids and violence/supernatural in movies do not mix. IMO

merlotgran Sat 21-Sep-19 21:50:29

Poor little chap. Some children definitely react more sensitively to images on screen than others. I think most of us remember being scared stiff as children having seen something we shouldn't (Quatermass comes to mind) but by today's standards it would be tame.

I would think the best thing to do is not to make too much of it. You've done your best to reassure him but labouring the point might make him think there's more to it.

Maybe his friend's parents weren't aware of the trailer. These things pop up when you're least expecting them.

Hopefully, with love and reassurance he'll soon forget about it.

Namsnanny Sat 21-Sep-19 21:52:14

Not a new situation I'm afraid!
My daughter who is 30y now, was frightened by a film I specifically asked my SIL not to let her watch, as she was prone to nightmares anyway. But lo and behold the video was rented especially!!
She had nightmares every night for over a year. She was around 7/8 at the time.

Unfortunately a similar thing happened with her younger brother, but he didn't tell me or suffer from nightmares.

Jane10 Sat 21-Sep-19 21:58:16

I completely agree. My DGS is a very sensitive wee soul and spends a lot of time with an older cousin who seems to watch nasty scary programmes and films with him. My DGS wants to seem cool but really isn't. He asked to watch an unsuitable TV programme when he was with me but I refused to allow it. (Actually I don't like scary or unsettling things either!)
Recently, his Mum checked his i- pad search history and found that he'd been Googling 'demons'! He already has trouble sleeping. Endearingly though, the only other thing he'd been Googling was 'husky puppies'. Needless to say he no longer has access to any data.

Urmstongran Sat 21-Sep-19 22:08:45

It’s good your grandson felt he could confide in you Maw and that you sat with him and reassured him by saying all the right things. Hopefully that comforting conversation with granny will have gone a long way in soothing him.

Perhaps tell your daughter in the morning (don’t spoil her night out when she comes in) and discuss over breakfast the best way forward.


Tangerine Sat 21-Sep-19 22:14:08

It sounds as if you've smoothed things over. Urmstongran's idea of telling your daughter in the morning sounds good.

Maybe the trailer came on when grandson's parents were out of the room. I don't know.

I hope your grandson is OK.

Tangerine Sat 21-Sep-19 22:14:40

Sorry I meant grandson's friend's parents were out of the room.

rosecarmel Sat 21-Sep-19 22:16:10

I went through a similar experience with my daughter when she was approximately the same age- It happened at an overnight- And along with being frightened there was a peer pressure element as well- We talked it through and she handled the matter herself with her friends- They became defensive and antagonized her- So she stopped going over to their home- The mum had the same attitude when she called me to talk about it- I let her rant and then hang up on me- Eventually, the friend and mum came around and all got worked out -

Doodledog Sat 21-Sep-19 22:18:18

I'm not in any way saying that this is the same situation; but when my daughter (now 26) was little, the mum of one of her friends was furious with me for letting them watch Candy Man (I think that was the title).

I mist definitely hadn't. I am a wimp when it comes to horror films, so it wouldn't have even been in the house, and in any case I always made a point of checking with the parents if a child was watching anything in my house, as they all have different trigger points which are not necessarily picked up by the censors.

I don't think the mum believed me, and her daughter was clearly distressed; but as I live and breathe, that film was not watched in this house.

MissAdventure Sat 21-Sep-19 22:21:21

I used to work night shifts when my daughter was around 8, and she used to stay with my friend.

I found out they had been watching adult films; the same character, 'Pennywise' from Stephen kings film 'It' absolutely terrified her.

She never could watch the film, or bear to even think about a particular scene, even as an adult.

Luckygirl Sat 21-Sep-19 22:39:29

It is just horrible - you cannot unsee something.

Similar happened with my DDs at friend's homes; and in one instance it was a film with sexual content that my 11 year old was shown at a birthday party!!! What can they have been thinking of?

Also I remember a primary school showing a film as a treat and it was rated 15!!

KatyK Sun 22-Sep-19 09:15:26

When our granddaughter was in her last year of primary school, they were allowed to watch a film as a 'treat'. They showed The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. What were they thinking? Our DGD was traumatised. OK it's not an actual horror film, but it is extremely harrowing.

jenpax Sun 22-Sep-19 10:02:12

Same thing happened with my eldest daughter when she was 8, she stayed for a sleep over at a friends house in the village we lived in, friend was a school class mate and both parents seemed fine, when she came home she revealed that they had bern allowed to stay up and watch a horror video and it had given her night mares, which went on for weeks! I was so angry as we were really really careful about tv and videos and had successfully protected her and her two smaller sisters up to that point!
I always made a point of asking parents of any children coming to my house (and still do with DGC) what they are allowed to watch.
I hope your little DGS is OK mawB, he is the same age as my eldest DGS and he too would be upset if he had seen a Stephen King film 😥

knspol Sun 22-Sep-19 10:45:50

Great that you were on hand to comfort and reassure him and that he felt he could talk to you about it. I hope it was just a trailer he saw and not the whole film. I read a SK book once and had nightmares for a very long time afterwards, could not stop thinking about it all and I was an adult at the time, never again!

Growing0ldDisgracefully Sun 22-Sep-19 11:18:11

I'm sorry I can't offer any advice as I've no experience of this type of situation. However, having said that, I had weeks of nightmares in my first year at secondary school, after our English teacher read out to us The Monkey's Paw (the book was then used for some class exercises). I didn't feel able to tell anyone about this at the time. So the cause of nightmares aren't necessarily always from 'banned' sources.

notanan2 Sun 22-Sep-19 11:37:17

We chatted about how his mummy and daddy or I or his other grandparents would never let anything harm him

You can't make promises like that!
You will lose his trust if you do
Things will harm him, like it or not, and you promising they wont isnt helpful.
You need to stay honest while reassuring.

He will see worse on friends phones (and maybe his own) over the next few years so he needs tools to deal with it: how to say "no I dont want to watch that" etc. Its a starting point for wider discussion.

You cant "tell" which friends house will be lax on this sort of thing but if I was to generalise I would say that the posher naicer parents tend to be worse at keeping tabs and controls on their kids gaming and viewing than the "rougher" looking families. Maybe it comes down to logistics: in a 5 bed house you can be less aware than bunched together in a flat? I dont know!

I dont find asking the parents a great predicter either: the ones who swore blind that they were really strict on that sort of thing were the ones with the sneaky kids who knew their way around the parental controls!

The sad truth is, you cant predict or prevent it, you can only teach them what to do if it happens to make it stop and not go along with the crowd

vickymeldrew Sun 22-Sep-19 11:52:22

Trailers for horror films are only shown during other films of a similar nature. They are not allowed to be shown amongst films with a different certification. It’s naive to think they are seen ‘by accident’.

KatyK Sun 22-Sep-19 12:04:52

When our DD was about 12 she had a phase of wanting to sleep in our room as she was 'scared'. We found out that she had watched The Exorcist at her friend's house.

Davidhs Sun 22-Sep-19 12:07:31

There are always going to be sensitive children that are badly affected by graphic scenes in film and that is why films are censored and graduated including PG, Parental Guidance.
Not all parents do take notice of the age restrictions, but it’s not only censored films or TV that is harmful, there were a few mainstream programmes that were banned in our house. Notably, Eastenders - do we really want our children to learn that the continuous drama portrayed, is “normal” behavior

missdeke Sun 22-Sep-19 12:07:51

I was terrified by a film when I was small about a hand coming out of a wall trying to steal a necklace, and consequently became scared of gaps, e.g. an open door causing a strip of light on the bedroom wall or a letter box not properly closed. About 10 years ago I saw The Cat and The Canary, and realised that this was the film that had terrified me, it was a Bob Hope comedy!! It's not always horror films that cause problems.

I still have to sleep in darkness with the door firmly closed!!

Rosina Sun 22-Sep-19 12:11:36

I am always concerned about what chidlren watch, and the one thing that keeps coming back to me is that what has been seen cannot be unseen, and often there is damage because children are too young to cope with the scenes of violence, or horror, or worse still sex. Working in a school it was a real eye opener to learn what some children had watched at home, presumably with parental consent. At seven, eight and nine they were not old enough to deal with what they saw and it upset them.

Chestnut Sun 22-Sep-19 12:13:53

This is a subject I feel strongly about due to all the horrific content now available in games and movies and even TV programmes. The makers of these things aren't worried about children seeing them as long as they make their buck!

When we were young there was no possibility of seeing adult content. It was shown only at the cinema and you had to look old enough to get in. I saw my first horror movie at 13 years (I looked older) which was 'The Crawling Hand' and gave me nightmares even at that age.

I think we have to make sure children understand there is some very scary stuff out there and to be careful when visiting friends. We have told my 8 year old grandson there are movies he can see when he's older, but if he sees them now he will be scared. And there are movies which are so scary he may never want to see them, even when grown up. They need to know these things exist. Explain that some people like scary movies, but not everyone. They also need to be assured that they are just movies and however frightening nothing in them is ever real. Nothing in a movie will ever happen to them, and no movie monsters will ever get them!

MissAdventure Sun 22-Sep-19 12:33:21

When my grandson had his last day at junior school, they had treats and sweets, and a film.
The film was 'The hunger games'!