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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'!

Chestnut Sun 22-Sep-19 12:51:27

MissAdventure I genuinely think some adults haven't a clue, obviously even some teachers. Maybe it's due to the way they were brought up.

GrannyGravy13 Sun 22-Sep-19 12:58:33

The Hunger Games is a 12A in the U.K. with the fight to the death scene cut.

GrannyGravy13 Sun 22-Sep-19 13:03:30

My AC are all fans of Horror films, no idea why as Mr.Gravy and I are definitely not!!

When we had sleepovers here from the age of 11 there was usually a "scary" film, but other parents were always informed and we knew one of the girls would watch tv with us till the girls had watched the film. She was never bullied or tormented for her dislike of being scared she was an integral part of their group.

notanan2 Sun 22-Sep-19 13:07:33

I personally think that Hunger Games should be on the curriculum, it is an excellent study of propoganda, media and politics. But secondary not primary. All teens should read it IMO. The last book is horrific but was hugely tamed down in the film, which was a relief as I did not want to see the visuals on that scene.

montymops Sun 22-Sep-19 13:12:12

I can remember when Jaws was shown on television- maybe late 70’s or early 80’s - at a time when children could watch it. Two of my children ( all now in their 40’s) were completely fine and not disturbed at all when a man’s leg was bitten off ( they are both now in the medical profession- a surgeon and a GP) my middle son was quite traumatised- had nightmares, banged his head against the wall and it took him some time to get over it - some children are much more sensitive and of course in the case of Jaws - it is true that animals can and will injure humans- unlike fantasy films where belief can be suspended. Children will get over it but my son still hates any violent films - even though he is a big rugby player.

notanan2 Sun 22-Sep-19 13:13:32

There are benefits to exploring macabre themes in "safe" settings like a movie but it does need to be age appropriate.

notanan2 Sun 22-Sep-19 13:15:57

And as another poster said, its not always "horrors" that dusturb.

My children were fine with fiction, could appreciate that it wasnt real, but one went through a phase of getting upset and stresses about cbbc newsround which they show at school!

Tigertooth Sun 22-Sep-19 13:22:37

The other child’s parents probably didn’t know - it was just a trailer so probably just popped up as an ad on Netflix or something.
Not great but perhaps showing him some footage of how films are made, prosthetics, make up etc will
re-Inforce that it’s not real,

grapefruitpip Sun 22-Sep-19 13:27:35

Oh it's heartbreaking to see innocence spoiled.

My son cried for weeks about Aslan....that was only the teacher reading the story.

Poor kids, growing up with this filth available to them.

Day6 Sun 22-Sep-19 13:32:00

Maw I am still amazed that a film which terrified me and played on my mind (as a middle aged woman,) "The Woman in Black" the one with Daniel Radcliffe has a 12 certificate!!!

I'd have been damaged for life if I'd watched this supernatural horror at that age!

Your poor Grandson. I was absolutely horrified when I viewed on of the X Box games my (adult) son and his friends were playing. It involved players being killers and shooting or otherwise murdering baddies on screen. It was terribly violent, but players splattering the figures on in a gruesome fashion was greeted with howls of delight by the others,

They were adults but I know much younger children play these hideous and very violent games - some of them very tense and scary. I wouldn't allow my sons Nintendo boxes when they came out. They were teenagers then and I was viewed as a real spoilsport but I was so glad that their childhoods and teen years were spent mostly in the fresh air and not sitting in front of TV screens or video games/mobile phones.

I think parents have a duty to monitor what their children are watching. One of our young GDs tried to con us into letting her watch a Netflix programme designed for American teens. It was complete tripe but showed girls having dream lives, lusting after boys, using make-up, gyrating sexily to music, preening themselves, deceiving adults - all to pop songs with dubious (sexual) lyrics. We told her it wasn't suitable and distracted her, but she pleaded with us to let her watch it. We said no - and when I mentioned it to DD, her Mum, she too told me it was banned at home. Apparently a school friend, aged six, watches it and did while GD was at her house, supposedly playing.

My DD was very annoyed.

I do hope your chat with your DGS helped him but sadly, with children now having TVs in their rooms as a matter of course, one has to wonder when and where they'll be watching the next unsuitable film or programme.

HannahLoisLuke Sun 22-Sep-19 13:32:40

This reminds me of a time, years ago when I called on my daughter for a coffee and her three children plus friends were watching a home recorded vhs tape of Fireman Sam, Postman Pat etc on a wet miserable afternoon.
After she'd made our coffee she went into the other room to check on the children and to her absolute horror saw that they were watching The Silence of the Lambs! It was previously recorded on the same vhs tape and hadn't been completely scrubbed before reusing the tape.
She just switched it off and breezily asked if anyone was ready for a biscuit.
None of the children ever seemed to suffer any after effects but on checking the tape afterwards they'd only seen a couple of minutes thank goodness.
She was extremely careful about reusing old tapes after that!

GrannyGravy13 Sun 22-Sep-19 13:32:59

The strange thing in our case is the girl who didn't watch the scary videos has gone on to become an actress and act in them.

GrannyGravy13 Sun 22-Sep-19 13:37:11

notanan2 totally agree with your post.

Maremia Sun 22-Sep-19 13:46:25

Yes, it is constant warfare trying to keep our youngsters safe from media predators in all forms. You just have to be vigilant while they are in your care, even if it means sitting side by side through eons of lego blogs, Youtube slime making films or whatever interest they are have. It's the pop ups that are the menace, and the other 'suggested' programmes shown down the side of what you are watching with them. They are only ever one click away from disaster unless all of your machines have appropriate blocks.

KatyK Sun 22-Sep-19 14:05:29

I can remember having nightmares about a film when I was a child. I have no idea what it was called but it showed a little girl being taken away from outside a ranch by Red Indians (as we used to call them). I was terrified of Indians (I am now fascinated by them). DH thinks the film may have been The Searchers.

Peewitt52 Sun 22-Sep-19 14:23:42

IT/ Pennywise scares the pants off me and I’m (age wise anyway) an adult. I can completely understand how a child would be terrified.

Chestnut Sun 22-Sep-19 14:49:10

It's a real shame we can't go back to X rated adult movies being shown only at the cinema and not for release on DVD, TV, video or online. Especially horror. Then no child would ever see them. But it's all about money, money, money and of course there is even a Horror channel on TV where they are shown during the day. It's a bad, sad world we live in.

HettyMaud Sun 22-Sep-19 16:13:49

Davidhs - totally agree about East Enders. It should be shown after the watershed - or preferably not at all. Definitely not suitable for family viewing.
Also agree that we cannot know what other parents allow. Can't believe people who think it is appropriate to permit violent or sexual content to be shown to children. No wonder we have so many social problems when young minds are exposed to things they cannot understand.

Chestnut Sun 22-Sep-19 17:06:31

I agree Hetty. One thing people forget is that when you sleep your mind processes your experiences of the day and files them away in the vaults of your brain. This often involves dreaming which is why dreams can be good, or bad/scary if you are worried about something. I can't imagine what young minds make of the ghastly horrors there are on TV etc. nowadays. They are not mature enough to process them as an adult would so these horrors may disturb them and affect their thought processes. As you say, no wonder we have so many social problems now with young people.

absthame Sun 22-Sep-19 17:29:30

The most scary things in my life were as an adult having been put on statins which caused me to have very lucid dreams causing me to climb out of a 3rd floor window, trying to exit our home, fighting with my wife etc etc. I was not aware of the irrational behavior, but when was told about the incident of the moment I could relate it to the dream that I had just had.

notanan2 Sun 22-Sep-19 18:18:00

Ah a poster mentioned Women in Black, that was a yr9 school trip at my school! I missed it but saw it as an adult and felt hauntef for weeks. Although I think the complexities of psychological horrors are sometimes missed by children. E.g. I quite enjoyed studying Othello in school. I find it horrific now how the abuser is vindicated in the end

notanan2 Sun 22-Sep-19 18:29:42

What disturbs adults isnt necessarily what disturbs children.

A blatent "baddy" Vs a "nice" character that is manipulative IYKWIM

MissAdventure Sun 22-Sep-19 19:17:20

Regardless, its for the parents to decide what their child may or may not watch.

I'm fairly liberal, probably because I love a horror film myself, but I wouldn't dream of putting something scary or gory on with another persons child there.

Greyduster Sun 22-Sep-19 19:41:02

Ah, the Woman in Black was the scariest film I have ever seen, but the one that haunted me from childhood was ‘A Night to Remember’ about the sinking of the Titanic. I watched that ship go down, in my head, for years. Couldn’t bring myself to watch the latest one at all and still have not.
The trouble with films now is everything is so graphic; nothing is left to the imagination. Everything from Harry Potter to the LOR trilogy and The Hobbit have more than a little ‘mild peril’. It’s horses for courses. What will keep one child awake for weeks will be taken in its stride by another of the same age, and generally parents and grandparents know what is likely to tip the scales for their child and act accordingly, but, unfortunately, have no control over what the child is exposed to elsewhere.

Greyduster Sun 22-Sep-19 19:51:03

KatyK ‘The Searchers’ is an example of what I was saying about graphic content. A lot of what was left to our imagination but still instilled horror in us would probably not be left to our imagination at all now, but presented to us in every technicolour detail. A very fine film but I hope it never suffers from a remake.

optimist Sun 22-Sep-19 20:00:10

I was a teacher and it often seemed that children watched violent/pornographic films with older siblings - parents were unaware and usually out.

BBbevan Sun 22-Sep-19 20:44:21

My DD was traumatised by the child catcher in Chitty Bang Bang. She is now in her 50s and still will not watch that film.

glammagran Sun 22-Sep-19 20:57:14

My daughter (45) but aged approximately 9 stayed over with a schoolfriend and they were allowed to watch Nightmare on Elm Street. She had nightmares for weeks which we found baffling but I didn’t find out for many years. She was worried I’d have stormed round to have words with the other child’s parents and she was right, I would have.

puppytoe Sun 22-Sep-19 21:15:54

My DD was traumatised by the witch in "The Wizard of Oz" when she first saw it on television aged about 5. She's now 37 and still won't watch it.

Tangerine Sun 22-Sep-19 21:42:12

Yes Puppytoe, I understand as I felt the same as your daughter aged about 5. However, I now love The Wizard of Oz.

Deedaa Sun 22-Sep-19 21:52:06

My two watched Evil Dead II when they were very young and found the whole thing hilarious. However DS (41) refuses to watch the new TV version of The Dark Crystal because he was terrified by the Skeksis in the original film and DD (44) has never seen Bambi because she doesn't want to see the bit where Bambi's mother is killed.

Chestnut Mon 23-Sep-19 00:00:41

I remember deciding to introduce my two girls to horror at the age of 11 and 13. The younger one was more likely to cope than the older one so that was fine. We watched 'Alien' tucked up in bed together on holiday, with the 11 year old in the middle for security. Being on holiday helped I think. They were both scared but fine. But that's because I made the right judgement about when they were ready and gave them a secure environment where we could all scream and joke about it together.

vintage1950 Mon 23-Sep-19 09:40:24

My granddaughter, aged 10, was shown the animated film 'Alma' at school, which is apparently recommended for the English syllabus. She left the room in tears, and so did a big lad from the same class. The others were unperturbed.
The theme of the film is that a small girl becomes trapped inside the body of a doll, with no prospect of release....!

Dee1012 Mon 23-Sep-19 10:17:07

Chestnut...I did exactly the same!
I chose the horror film carefully and then explained about make-up etc for the actors and we also watched an extra clip on the video about how the film was made.
My son loved it and still has an abiding interest in the direction/special effects/make-up in film.
However, he won't watch anything whatsoever if an animal is harmed and his biggest trauma when younger came from Bambi!!

GrannyGravy13 Mon 23-Sep-19 10:23:36

Dee1012 and Chesnut thank you for your posts, I was beginning to have a case of "delayed maternal guilt".

Forewarned and informed has always been the way we have reared our C and they are continuing the same with GC

Greyduster Mon 23-Sep-19 11:30:27

I thought, recently, about buying my GS a copy of ‘Lord of the Flies’ as I remember reading it as an older child and not being particularly upset by any of the content, but I decided to get a copy from the library and read it again and I decided then that, although he is about the same age as I was, it would probably upset him more than it did me. One or two incidents in it are potentially quite shocking. I discussed it with his mum and she agreed with me, but maybe neither of us are doing him any favours.

Tangerine Mon 23-Sep-19 13:53:57

Greyduster - if things are the same where you live as for my children, your GS may end up reading it anyway when he's a little older. All three of my children read Lord of the Flies for GCSE English Literature.

We read it for "O" level English Literature when I was at school and that was almost 50 years ago. Not much changes

MeganPerry Tue 24-Sep-19 20:42:02

In my opinion, the best thing is to be absolutely sure of what a movie he has seen.
And that's exactly what you're scared to show your child behind the scenes of that movie.
To be completely convinced that all of them are scenes.

Rosina Tue 24-Sep-19 22:31:32

I was taken to the cinema by an aunt at about seven and saw a film that would now be desribed as a really mild horror film, but I woke up in the night crying and did so for weeks. My children watched some age appropriate children's Christmas films and laughted at them; one of their friends went home and cried about the content. It demonstrated that some of us can't cope as well as others so it is perhaps best to err on the side of caution with chidlren. There is clearly plenty of time to watch what I would probably still think of as unsuitable films!

Chestnut Tue 24-Sep-19 23:47:24

Rosina spot on. People are showing young children movies which are suitable for teenagers. Some 80s films like Ghostbusters and Gremlins are deceptively horrible. They are made with adult humour not suitable for children. Jurassic Park is another which could traumatise young children and I remember plenty of 6-7 year olds screaming in horror at the cinema when it came out.

Beckett Wed 25-Sep-19 08:42:18

When I was a very young child my older brother read me a story about a black cat which would turn into a monster at night and eat children! A few weeks later we were staying with an aunt and uncle - who had a black cat! That night the cat came into my room and jumped on my bed - I think my screams were heard in the next town!