Strategies for Taming The Media Beast

'MOMMY, I'M SCARED'

How TV and Movies Frighten Children And What We Can Do to Protect Them

By Joanne Cantor

Harcourt Brace

320 pp., $25

As a parent, how can I know if the latest G-rated movie is really appropriate for my six-year-old? Will she love it, or will she have fears afterward about evil queens or vicious wolf attacks?

I often ask around the neighborhood first. The prevailing view - at least among moms at the school bus stop - is that most of what is marketed toward children is too violent and too frightening for them.

At last, someone is taking this "fear factor" seriously. After 15 years of research, Joanne Cantor has concluded that TV programs and movies are the No. 1 preventable cause of fears and anxieties in children. Her book, "Mommy, I'm Scared," sends up warning flares about what types of visual images scare kids the most - from a two-year-old's fear of fantastical character transformations to a 12-year-old's fear of stories with child victims.

With convincing analysis, Cantor debunks the notion that "a good scare never hurt anyone." Portrayals of violence and personal injury (enhanced by all manner of sound effects) are linked to long-term problems such as sleep difficulties, aversions to certain animals, and fear of swimming or of being alone in certain areas of the house, she states. The nightly news is also not safe territory.

Cantor is not out to ban "Snow White" or promote censorship, she says. But she does prescribe common-sense advice for wise family viewing, as well as thoughtful tips on how to reassure frightened children of differing ages. Her book includes a candid and detailed discussion of the TV and motion-picture ratings systems, which she says fall short of being truly useful to parents.

Alerted to the dangers Cantor exposes, parents can more easily form their own strategies for taming the media beast.

* Laura Van Tuyl Clayton is a former Monitor writer.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK